Brad Binder: The best opportunity I’ve had in MotoGP

After suffering a first winless season in MotoGP, Brad Binder is confident 2023 will be his ‘best opportunity’ yet as he targets a top three place in the world championship.
Brad Binder, Valencia MotoGP test, 8 November
Brad Binder, Valencia MotoGP test, 8 November

The South African made history for KTM with its first MotoGP win, in only his third premier-class appearance, at Brno 2020.

Binder took another stride forward by rising from eleventh to sixth in the world championship the following year, adding a second victory on slicks in the rain at the Red Bull Ring.

But his championship progress plateaued in 2022 when Binder remained sixth overall, with three runner-up finishes, while team-mate Miguel Oliveira (10th) took two victories in the wet.

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Last season also saw KTM make a conscious shift in strategy away from rapid-fire updates, which it felt was compromising race weekend performance, to a more targeted approach.

“When we develop something it’s never really just a shot in the dark. Everything they bring us is to serve a purpose and touch a problem we have,” Binder explained.

“Everything is slower to come [now] but when it does come it’s always a good step in the right direction. This was a key difference last year. Instead of testing every [race] weekend, everything was more stable, but when they did bring us updates it was positive for all of us.”

Nevertheless, as KTM embarks on its seventh season in MotoGP, now is the time to deliver.

“I believe the guys have had a good amount of time now. They understand really well what we need to improve,” Binder said. “They’ve touched our problems dramatically.

“I honestly believe this is the best opportunity I’ve had in MotoGP so far. I’m going into the year feeling optimistic. I have a lot of confidence in my team and the bike they’ve given me. I know that together we can do a great job.

“Whether it’s the job we want to achieve or not, I’m 100% confident it’ll be a lot better than last year.”

Despite winning seven races over the past three seasons, KTM is yet to challenge for the MotoGP title – something Binder is determined to change, as he targets a top-three place in this year’s world championship.

Enea Bastianini and Aleix Espargaro, who finished third and fourth last season, remained in mathematical title contender until the penultimate round.

“I’ve finished sixth for two years running and I honestly believe if we make a small step forward it can go a long way,” Binder said.

“I want to change fighting for that top 6 to hopefully be fighting amongst the top 3. I believe it’s something I’m capable of and that’s my goal for the season. “

Brad Binder (Philip Platzer)
Brad Binder (Philip Platzer)

‘KTM is going to get there, that’s why I’m here’

“I believe KTM is going to get there. That’s why I’m here,” Binder added. “When I jumped on the KTM they’d already made a massive step from where they started. Now we’re not looking for the 2-3 seconds like they were at the begin, we’re looking for 2-3 tenths. We’re not far.

“I’m grateful to be a part of it because I’ve been with them when it hasn’t been so easy and I’m looking forward to reaping the reward when we do get this right.”

So what does the RC16 need to 'get it right' this season?

“This is where it gets complicated, because it’s such small amounts in each area,” Binder said. “But one key area is to stop, to turn as quick as possible and then get on the power.

"Also, I want a bit more rear contact on the brakes and a bit more grip to get out of the corners too.”

If those issues can be addressed, Binder feels it will also help solve the most obvious deficiency for KTM last season; qualifying.

“The one lap will come when we find a way to take the best from a fresh tyre,” said the former Moto3 world champion. “A lot of our issues come when we don’t stop well. We turn in and the bike wants to go straight almost. When you have a new tyre that affects us more.

“There were some races when qualifying wasn’t bad last year, it was much better than before. We’ve tried a few things which have helped us. There is still room to improve for sure but we’re working in a good direction.”


'Great to have Jack on board'

Jack Miller’s arrival, from the world title winning factory Ducati team, should also help move the project forward.

“It’s great to have Jack on board,” Binder said. “He comes with all the knowledge of Ducati which is the bike to beat. It gives us a great opportunity to see which direction we need to move in.

“Already at the Valencia test they found some interesting things. There is a lot more to come. It’s an exciting time for us and I’m looking forward to getting better and better throughout the season.”

Pressed on Miller’s feedback, Binder – who like Oliveira had not ridden another brand of MotoGP bike - said he was pleased the Australian backed up their comments.

“The really positive thing I took out of the test was that Jack confirmed the things that not only me, but Miguel and Dani [Pedrosa] said,” Binder explained. “It’s always fantastic when a team-mate feels what you do. It really shows us the big points we need to work on which is really fantastic for us. “

Brad Binder MotoGP race, Valencia MotoGP. 6 November
Brad Binder MotoGP race, Valencia MotoGP. 6 November

The new for 2023 Sprint races could be a bittersweet challenge for Binder, given his strong reputation as a racer but poor qualifying record of the RC16.

“I hope I’m a Saturday rider this season as well!” he joked of his reputation as a Sunday man.

“I’m really excited for the Sprints. I know I’m much better in a race. It adds something cool to the championship and will make it interesting for all of us.

“For sure, we always do better over a longer race,” he admitted. “But the feelings I had at the last [Valencia] test where they brought us updates in many areas, I think it could be better [in 2023].

“Our weak point over one lap is going to be a problem, but when it’s 12 laps there’s also time for a [tyre] drop. As much as we think the Sprint races will mix it up. I also think it’s going to be the same guys [at the front].”

Binder will next be on track during the official Sepang Test from February 10-12.

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