Brad Binder had plenty to smile about on Thursday at Brno, being back in the paddock for the first time since the announcement of his 2020 MotoGP deal and with a 'brand new' Moto2 bike from KTM.

Against expectations, KTM struggled badly at the start of the new Triumph era and it took triple 2018 race winner Binder eight races to claim a podium, at Assen.

A repeat of that runner-up finish next time at Sachsenring, from 17th on the grid, underlined that progress was finally being made. But the biggest changes will come this weekend in the Czech Republic.

"This year has been a bit of a disaster to say the least, but every weekend we seemed to find something new and got a little bit stronger," Binder said. "The last two were quite a bit better already and basically now in the mid-season break we've got a brand new bike for this race.

"I really hope it's what we've been looking for. Hopefully if it ticks all the boxes we'll be able to fight for more victories and catch back some points.

"I haven't managed to ride the new bike yet. It's going to be the first time tomorrow in FP1, but basically I think we've just tried to change the balance a little bit. I think we had a little bit too much weight over the front wheel.

"It's literally a brand spanking new bike. The fairings are different, the tank's different… It should be interesting! I'm really confident in this new bike, because all the directions that they have moved in are the things that we've seen we need throughout the year.

"So I really hope that this is the one."

Binder has ten races with which to try and overturn a 52-poit deficit to title leader Alex Marquez before starting the new MotoGP chapter in his career.

"I'm super excited to be stepping up into MotoGP next year. I know it's going to be a massive task but all-in-all I'm ready for the challenge and I think it's going to be an awesome opportunity for me," he said.

"First South African in a long time, so good for me and good for my country. I'm really excited."

Binder will ride alongside current Tech3 MotoGP rookie Miguel Oliveira next season, the pair having already been team-mates in Moto3 during 2015, then again in Moto2 for 2017 and 2018.

"I can't get rid of him!" quipped Oliveira. "It's a good thing, though, because he follows everything I do! So I need to think about my next move, because he will follow me for sure. But it's nice to have Brad around again, he has been my lucky charm and I think he deserves the ride.

"Obviously he is in a good position with the Moto2 garage, and also a very respected guy in KTM with the last KTM title in Moto3. So I think that it's important that he is given this opportunity, because he has shown that he deserves the ride. And it was a natural step for him also, he was expecting it."

Oliveira said the pair had spoken briefly about MotoGP, with Binder then trying the RC16 during a private KTM test.

"We speak about riding things, the speed, the brakes, but he tested after Sachsenring, he had half a day test here [at Brno]. I didn't speak with him about that."

And are they friends or rivals?

"Both! It's a thin line! He's a good guy, but inside the track, we are rough with each other, so it's cool."

 

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