Moto3 title favourite Brad Binder is under no illusions of the challenges that lie ahead in the Moto2 class, as he prepares to move into the intermediate category with Aki Ajo's squad aboard suspension manufacturer WP's new chassis.
Binder – leader of the junior class standings by the sizeable margin of 67 points - made his intentions of stepping up to Moto2 known in an exclusive interview with Crash.net
After narrowly missing out on victory at the Austrian Grand Prix, Binder said he expected to sign a contract to officialise his move that afternoon. “We have the contract and everything's looking really good, but we're just changing a bit of the wording but the base is done,” he said.
“For the time being the base is finished, we've just got a few things to change in the contract and we should be ready.” While the Ajo team would not confirm whether the deal is done, it is certain that Binder will replace world champion Johann Zarco, who is moving to MotoGP with Hervé Poncharal's Tech 3 Yamaha squad.
A self-confessed fan of the class, Binder is all-too-aware of the struggles of pervious Moto3 champions Alex Marquez and Danny Kent in the ultra competitive field. The 21-year old acknowledges the start will be a far from easy.
“I know it's going to be hard. I know I'm going to go there and get a hiding. It's one of those things in a way I look forward to because I like to really work.
“I really enjoy it when things don't go perfectly and you really try to work as hard as you can and a combination with I think Aki and the guys I have now, we understand each other really well. I think it'll be a really, really fun project.”
Although not official, it is believed Binder's deal is long-term stretching to, at least, two years in the Moto2 class, with a potential option to graduate into MotoGP thereafter.
It's clear KTM view WP's venture into the intermediate category as a place to continue nurturing young talent, so a direct path to the top exists all the way from the Red Bull Rookies to the premier class.
Having secured that long-term stability, the three-time grand prix race winner feels he will have sufficient time to acclimatise to the rough-and-tumble demands of the control-engine class.
“For sure, it's definitely something that can keep you more relaxed because if things don't happen the first year you have another whole season to try to work things out.
“So I have so much confidence in my team and the people around me that I feel like obviously I need to work a lot on myself but with the people around me I feel like they can guide me very well and we can do a good job at the end of the day.
Chassis manufacturers have struggled to challenge the Kalex hegemony in recent years but tests with the WP frame have bore positive early results at a test in Brno in the hands of test riders Julian Simon and Ricky Cardus.
“So far things I've heard everything sounds quite positive,” said Binder of the new steel chassis. “It sounds difficult because it's a brand new bike and the Kalex is so strong. But that's next year's mission.”
On who will be included in his Moto2 team, Binder believes he could potentially be reunited with Massimo Branchini, Johann Zarco's current crew chief and a technician the South African knows from 2015.
“I presume Massimo will be my crew chief. I'm not sure. Honestly I've not had one word. I have no idea what's happening. I just know I want to ride for the team next year and we'll see. Aki, he knows exactly all the guys and he'll definitely put the best package together possible for me.
“I look at Moto2 and it's something that I've wanted to go do for a long time already. It looks like so much fun. I believe you've got to enjoy all the steps. Once you get to MotoGP where do you go? I'm getting old, but not that old. We'll be okay.”