How woman lost her husband to autodrome crash in Dubai
Federico Fratelli and Maria Clara Diaz.
Dubai - "When you have a connection with the person you love, you can feel it. I felt my husband die."
Nearly 10 months after losing her husband to a fatal motorbike crash at the Dubai Autodrome in January, Maria Clara Diaz has shared her story about losing the love of her life.
On January 27, 2018, eleven days after the couple's fifth wedding anniversary, Federico Fratelli, (who was just 48 at the time), succumbed to internal injuries just minutes after crashing during a race at the UAE Sportbike Championship. It was his second heat during his first official amateur race in the UAE.
Riding under the Nerds Racing Team (based in Al Quoz), Fratelli was on lap six when the tragedy unfolded.
Also read: Dubai expat dies in race crash at autodrome
On the day following of the accident, Dubai Police confirmed to Khaleej Times that an Italian expat (Fratelli), died after his bike crashed due to faulty brakes.
And last month, on October 30, a ruling was issued from the Court of Misdemeanors sentencing two people to three months in jail and a fine of Dh10,000 each, on the charge of causing the death of a man by mistake.
Speaking to Khaleej Times following the verdict, Diaz said she feels like a piece of her died that day.
"It's incredible how life can change in just seconds. I was overwhelmed and jumping for joy when he passed in front of me twice leading the race, and then on the following lap I could see something wasn't right because Federico was getting off the track. It happened on curve 14 of the circuit; and seconds later he hit the barriers. I ran straight over to him but I couldn't see him breathing or moving. People were telling me 'don't worry he'll be fine, just a few broken bones', but when you have a connection with the person you love, you can feel it. I felt my husband die."
Bearing a small tattoo on her wedding ring finger which reads "Tesoro" (meaning 'treasure' in Italian and Spanish), Diaz said that was what she used to call him.
"I wish more people had the chance to meet him. He would light the room up like the sun when he entered it. His personality was light, amusing and contagious. Our time together was always special, we were a great team, a true love story. People always used to tell us that."
Working as a finance professional by day, motorsport was a passion for Fratelli. And back in August 2017, he was asked to join the Nerds Racing Team.
"He was jumping up and down like a kid. All he had to do was pay for the tires on the bike, the team said they would take care of everything else. It was a dream come true for him. Being part of a team cemented him as an amateur racer."
Owning and driving an Aprilia RSV4 1000cc motorbike, the engine size was deemed too large to qualify Fratelli as an official competitor for the UAE championship, so he raced one of the Nerds Racing Team bikes instead; a Yamaha R6 600cc.
After competing in a race earlier in the afternoon, Fratelli had communicated to the team that something wasn't right with the bike.
"He was pressing down the front brakes on the handlebar while he told the team mechanics there was an issue. I remember it so clearly because he was still on the bike with his helmet on. The visor was pulled up but he was speaking loudly because of all of the background noise," Diaz said. The team mechanics then made the front brakes change between the races.
It wasn't long after, while leading the race during his second heat of the day, that Fratelli crashed.
"Those moments that followed felt like an eternity. They pronounced Federico dead while still at the clinic on the circuit grounds. When I went to see him, it just looked like he was sleeping. He didn't have a scratch on him."
After the accident, Diaz questioned whether her husband just got excited and lost control of the bike while leading the race.
"But then I knew deep down this could not have been his fault. Riding, yes, it was his passion, but he was so meticulous and precise when it came to safety and making sure everything on the bike was right. He always worked closely with the mechanics in the lead up to a race. I knew this couldn't just be ruled an accident, that's why I opened an investigation and took it to court to fight for him. I couldn't just leave it like that."
According to the court ruling, the two defendants have been ordered to pay the victim's family blood money amounting to Dh200,000. It has suspended the execution of the jail sentence.
The primary court ruling has been appealed.