On a weekend that RNF announced it will be switching to Aprilia machinery from next season, Binder threw his hat firmly in the ring for one of the RS-GP rides by delivering his ‘best race’ in the premier-class.

The South African jumped from 20th to 17th on the opening lap, but was then forced to serve a long lap penalty for falling under yellow flags in free practice, dropping him back to 23rd.

Binder made his comeback intentions clear by briefly overtaking factory Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli on the following lap, the pair remaining together as they moved up the order.

But it was Binder, riding the year-old A spec bike, who had the last laugh, snatching 16th from Morbidelli at the chequered flag.

Morbidelli confirmed: "Darryn Binder was behind me all of the race but then used the slipstream to overtake me by 0.031s at the finish line."

Binder's result was still a long way from his ninth in the wet at Mandalika, but subtracting the 2.5s lost in the long lap would put him in the battle for 13th with Jorge Martin, Alex Marquez and Jack Miller.

The 24-year-old also set the 16th fastest lap of the race, again as the second-best Yamaha after reigning champion Quartararo and 1.0s from race winner Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati).

“For sure [it was my best race],” said Binder. “Obviously the position was better in Mandalika, but this was the first real race where I've been able to push throughout the whole race.

“I found the step I was looking for on Friday with the confidence in the front end. So all weekend I felt quite happy with how things were on the bike.

“It was such a shame that I had to do the long lap. But fortunately, I managed to join back in amongst the guys.

“Every single lap, I just started to understand a bit more when the tyre dropped. And I feel like I was really able to just ride and learn.

“I managed to bring it home as the second Yamaha and it makes me happy.

"Because I feel like I deserve to be here, I do know how to ride a motorcycle! And I feel like I've got the potential to do well. I just need a little bit of time to figure things out," added Binder, who has jumped straight from Moto3 to MotoGP.

Zeelenberg: ‘We celebrated like a victory’

Binder may not have joined Ducati rookies Marco Bezzecchi and Fabio di Giannantonio in featuring at the front of the race, but team manager Wilco Zeelenberg was delighted to see him take on and beat Morbidelli's factory Yamaha.

“Having him battling with the boys, especially Franco and beating him in the last lap made the team very proud and we celebrated that like a victory," Zeelenberg said.

“We are extremely happy with the performance of Darryn,” added team boss Razlan Razali. “He showed his worthiness, competencies, capabilities and most importantly his talent to be competitive and managed to be the second best Yamaha rider in front of Franco Morbidelli.

“We hope that he will continue this momentum for the next round in Catalunya. We must thank the team especially his Crew Chief, Noe Herrera for being able to give him the setting that he likes on the M1.”

Razali ‘lost for words’ by Dovizioso’s Mugello woes

While full of praise for Binder, Razali was ‘lost for words’ by the struggles for his experienced team-mate Andrea Dovizioso.

The Italian, on the factory-spec bike, qualified last and finished 20th in his home race.

"With Andrea, we are simply lost for words in terms of how much he has struggled from qualifying to the race,” Razali said. “We will have to sit down and discuss this next week and we need to find ways to turn his season around with 11 rounds to go. We look forward to Barcelona."

Dovizioso is 21st in the world championship, on eight points, with Binder just behind on six.

In the top rookie battle, Bezzecchi's fifth place at Mugello means he has pulled clear on 30 points, with di Giannantonio next best with eight. Behind Binder are Remy Gardner (3) and Raul Fernandez (0).