Newly crowned Moto3 world champion Brad Binder says he can now throw caution to the wind in the final four races of the season as he aims to sign off on a winning note.
Binder, whose runner-up finish at Aragon behind Jorge Navarro saw him wrap up the title to become the first South African to win a Grand Prix title since Harold Ekerold clinched the 350cc championship in 1980, was relieved to put the outcome beyond doubt in Spain.
The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider said: “For the last four races I can just go there and push and whatever happens, happens. It's definitely going to be a bit of a strange feeling because all year I've tried to be a little bit conservative at times. Now I can go out, put my head down and make sure I try and win the race.
“I wasn't too stressed and if it happened here [Aragon] it happened – I just wanted to try and get the job done. We have another four races to go still and I think it was a very different situation to what a lot of people are in when they're fighting for a world championship. Normally it comes down to Valencia where you have to do the perfect weekend, but I didn't have to [win title at Aragon]. If I had crashed, it wasn't a problem either and I didn't have the pressure people maybe said I did.”
Binder, who had never won a Grand Prix race before 2016, hailed his achievement as 'so special' and thanked his parents for their unwavering support throughout his young career.
“It's a day I'll never forget and it's so special to win the world championship. In the future, I think I'm going to have a soft spot in my heart for Aragon.
“I'm so grateful to my parents and they have sacrificed so much for me to be here. We started to race in Europe when I was 12 years old and now is the first time I'm starting to feel like it is really paying off. I have an incredible team behind me and I cannot thank them enough and KTM because I've had such an incredible bike,” added the 21-year-old.
“I think the thing that made the biggest difference is that I have the most incredible team behind me. I have such a great structure and everything has been working so well. I've never gone into a race being unsure about anything and the team works so hard. The KTM people, my manager, everyone around me has made everything work out perfectly for me this year.
“It's so nice because when I rock up to the race weekend I have no worries and no stress – I just carry on with my job.”
Binder says his confidence soared when he came from last to first to seal his maiden victory at Jerez and from there he continued to build his title-winning momentum.
“The best race of the year was probably Jerez, when I came from last to first – that was pretty special – and my first Grand Prix win.
“When I won my first race I came from last and I managed to gap the field as well, so any time I was struggled after that I looked at that race and said if I can win from last, then I'm sure I can win any other time too. I think after you win the first race something clicks and then you start to believe it's possible,” he said.
“This year, we have been really consistent but also my rivals in the championship in second and third have had a lot of moments and things for them haven't been easy. Jorge [Navarro] broke his leg and also a few times he's been taken out of the race and each time I won those races, so it really gave me a chance to get a big gap in the championship.”
Binder will make the step up to Moto2 in 2017 with KTM but has stopped short of revealing any personal targets for his first season in the intermediate class.
“I'm just going to go and ride the thing and see how it goes. You can see for all the guys that step up from Moto3 that it's tough. I just want to go out there, try and work really hard every lap and I think if I keep working really hard, I'll definitely arrive there one day – maybe not in the first year or second year, but I hope to get to the top of that one day.”