Brad Binder says he will find it hard to believe that not only has he realised his dream of winning a MotoGP race but that he has achieved it in only his third event following his spectacular and unexpected first success at Brno.
The South African pulled off a remarkable result to not only land his first victory in the top flight but give KTM its first-ever MotoGP victory in its fourth season of trying.
Binder came to the Czech Republic having turned heads with pace in the opening two rounds in Jerez, even if race day mistakes neutered the potential of his results. However, after making Q2 for a second race in succession, he ascended into MotoGP’s hallowed winners’ circle in style with a controlled and accomplished performance that belies his inexperience.
Indeed, with no variables of low attrition rate or poor weather conditions to explain the result, Binder himself admits he was stunned to not only rise into the lead but accelerate home to victory too.
“It’s unbelievable, I don’t think it is ever going to sink in,” he said. “Honestly, it is something I have always dreamed about and today it came true - it’s unbelievable to think it would come in my third grand prix but… I don’t know where to start!
“I want to say thank you to everyone that has ever helped me, my family for backing me from day one and my team for giving me such an unbelievable motorbike today. It’s incredible to think where we are right now.”
"Even with no-one behind me I blocked the lines just in case..."
Reflecting on a race in which KTM appeared to nurse its rear tyres better than its rivals – particularly the Petronas SRT Yamahas that led the way initially – Binder says seeing Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli begin to squirm ahead of him gave him the confidence to push on, having held back initially after faux pas’ in Jerez.
“Before I came to Brno I said to myself that I needed to step back in the race because I messed up by being a little over anxious, so today I did that. At the start I didn’t do anything crazy, I saw my opportunities and made the move and thankfully no contact or trips through the gravel this time!
“At the beginning I was following Fabio and saw he was struggling a bit more than I was, so I tried to get past him and chase Franco. Then I saw Franco really start to struggle with his rear tyre and mine still felt quite good, so I sat behind him for a lap and then tried to see what I could do.
“From then on I think it was the most crazy 10 laps of my life. I did everything softly and calm as possible because the rear tyre was quite dead. Every time I tried to something aggressive I had some crazy pumping.
“When I got into first place, I was thinking ‘gosh, I’m leading a MotoGP race’ and when I saw the gap come up, I was even more shocked. In the final three laps, even with no-one behind me I blocked the lines just in case.”
The victory marks an earlier than expected peak in Binder’s career, which was nurtured to MotoGP through KTM’s rider programme. Remarkably, the youngster – runner-up to Alex Marquez in Moto2 last year – was originally primed to join Tech 3 KTM before Johann Zarco’s departure earned him an instant promotion, a confidence he has already paid back handsomely.
Armed with a much improved KTM RC16 – which showed strong pace in Pol Espargaro’s hands too before his crash – Binder credits the hard graft he put in during the coronavirus-initiated pre-season hiatus for helping make huge strides quickly
“When did the first test I was last in both sessions, so I think it gave me extra fire going tino the off-season to work hard and figure out this MotoGP thing. When we came back to Malaysia already I’d made a step forward, them when everything was cut in Qatar in these months off I used it to my advantage and trained extremely hard. I tried to learn as much as I could, watching old videos, just trying to figure out how to ride this weapon.”