Brad Binder was spectacular to watch as a rookie in 2020, but with that said, what are the expectations for the latest MotoGP rookie of the year rider.

The South African was a winner just three races into last season after claiming a brilliant win at the Czech Grand Prix. With Franco Morbidelli out front for much of the race and looking like a maiden win to be, Binder made a mid-race surge through the pack that no one else could match to take the win. 

This came after a year of sensational rookie performances from Fabio Quartararo in 2019, showing how so called 'rookie' riders are adapting to the premier class with more success than before. 

Being rookie of the year meant a lot to Binder who spoke about the achievement and his goals for the new campaign at the team's Red Bull KTM bike launch: "One thing that I wanted was to be Rookie of the Year, for sure, and I think 2020 blew all of our expectations a little bit. All I can say is that for 2021 I want to make it a hell of a lot better."

Of course, we remember the great year Binder and KTM had claiming their first win in MotoGP, however Binder knows so much more was possible: "2020 in general was a season where I feel we achieved a lot, a few good results and obviously with the first victory - or KTM's first victory - being the main thing. 

"But also there were so many days when we had the potential to do so much more. I made a hell of a lot of mistakes and ended up throwing away a lot of golden opportunities, so in general that was a bit frustrating and is one thing I really want to fix this season and if we can do that then I know we have the speed and the pace to do a good job." 

Binder has often showed that more time spent with the same team, the better results are. If this trend continues, 2021 could be very successful for the KTM team. Asked about his first year in MotoGP and the excitement over the 'wow' element of these bikes, Binder said: "The first time you jump on a MotoGP bike is an incredible feeling. It is something you have always worked towards your whole career as a motorcycle racer and there is no real way to explain the sensations you get on those first few laps.

"The bike is just unbelievable: the way it accelerates, the wheelie, the power you have is just insane, the way the bike stops. There are so many insane things that it just takes time to get used to. I'm sure now - after a few months off the bike - that jumping straight back on [will mean] all of those things are going to ignite again, so I'm looking forward to it."

Looking ahead to the 2021 season, and what to expect from Binder, it is safe to say podiums and fighting at the front will be the first objective. In just his second year we saw Suzuki's Joan Mir become world champion, which shows the progression that can take place from year one and two. 

While expecting Binder to fight for the championship might be premature thinking, there is nothing to suggest it can't be a possibility nonetheless. There will also be new circuits for the KTM rider to learn, something that excites Binder: "With having to learn a whole new load of circuits in 2021 I'm actually looking forward to it. 

"It will be a challenge for sure and it is super-exciting to know I am going to all these tracks for the first time on the MotoGP bike. The main thing for me is now understand what I got beneath me much better and have a much better understanding of how I have to ride the bike. I think going to these circuits won't be as much of a challenge as it was last season."

Binder also expanded on the changes he wanted to make over the off-season both mentally and physically. "The main thing I wanted to do this off-season was to try and understand everything that I learned during the last season. Especially with 2020 season being so on-top of each other with all the races there was never really too much time to sit down and understand exactly what was going on," said Binder. 

"Now I have had a few months off it is clear to me what I need to improve. It would be great to stay on the bike a little bit more and make a lot less mistakes, for sure. I need to have a bit more self-belief, not worry too much and just believe that the job I can do is enough to have a good season this year and make good improvements."

But what can we expect from Binder with the opening round in Qatar just over a month away? Well, given the stability of the team's rider lineup with Miguel Oliveira joining Binder and their rapid ascent towards the top of MotoGP, it would suggest anything is possible. 

Binder hit the ground running as a rookie in 2020 and will be expected to deliver similar results from the moment it is lights out in Losail. If the South African can become more consistent, he has a chance to compete for wins on a regular basis. 

 

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