MotoGP rookie Brad Binder may have left Jerez with just three points to his name, but the South African was one of the surprises of the season openers.

A mistake during the first Jerez race saw the Red Bull KTM rider drop to the back of the field before recovering to 13th. But if the time lost during that one rogue lap was removed, his race time was fast enough for second.

Binder looked poised to make amends in the next event at the Spanish circuit, running as high as third in free practice before qualifying ninth, on a bike that is yet to break the top six in a dry MotoGP race.

But disaster struck at turn one when Binder clipped the back of Tech3 KTM's Miguel Oliveira, starting a career-best fifth, flipping the Portuguese into a highside and leaving Binder at the back of the pack. Again.

"When I saw Danilo [Petrucci on the inside] I picked up the bike and as I did that I went straight into the back of Miguel. It sucks because he’s my good mate, but also it’s another KTM and he’d had his best qualifying," Binder said.

"I went to speak to him straight after to explain what I felt. He was OK with it all. For sure he was disappointed and anybody would be, but he was definitely a lot more chilled than I expected."

Like Oliveira, Binder also failed to finish, crashing out of twelfth place at half-distance. But once again, the #33 showed what might have been by setting the third fastest race lap.

"To have the third quickest lap is really good. I would have never expected that coming into my first two GPs," he said. "Of course, the rhythm was a bit up-and-down but when I did clean laps they were really fast, maybe near the top five guys.

"Obviously I cannot be happy with the way the races have gone, but the rest has been great. I have been working well and with good pace.

"The positive thing I can take away is that the speed is there. I’m definitely not the quickest, but I am in the top eight and whenever I’m on track in the sessions then I am in this bunch.

"Even to be there is amazing. If you had told me that would be the situation at the end of last year then I’d would have said you were lying. It’s great. I need to take that positive point.

"It’s not like me to mess up in races and now I have done it twice in a row! Not great on my behalf. Life goes on. I have to keep in mind that I am a rookie and I will make a hell of a lot of mistakes."

Binder will now be seeking to combine his speed with a mistake-free race at Brno in the Czech Republic this weekend.

"Brno is a completely different track and it will be fantastic to see our bike work somewhere else because all the KTMs were working really well in Jerez," he said.

 

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