While next weekend’s MotoGP season opener in Qatar will be the true test, Brad Binder feels KTM has made a step regarding qualifying performance. 

After a slow start to pre-season testing in Sepang, MotoGP’ return to Indonesia for the first time since 1997 resulted in Binder and the 2022 KTM RC16 showing much improved performance in both one lap trim and over race distance. 

The South African, who ended the test in ninth, finished as high as P3 during the opening day, while he was also the fastest KTM rider come the end of testing. 

But with a new season just seven days away - will be Binder’s third in the premier class - a clearer indication of where KTM stands is forthcoming. 

With qualifying pace being one of Austrian manufacturer’s Achilles heels in 2021, finding more pace with brand new soft tyres is not only an obvious need, but perhaps their biggest in 2022. 

Following the three day Mandalika test, Binder was quick to point out that only a ‘real’ qualifying session will highlight if enough improvements have been made, however, the former Moto3 world champion alluded to being able to 'use the grip we have' a lot more, something that was evidently missing at times last year.   

Binder said: "The only way we’re going to know is when it comes down to a proper qualifying. The one thing I can say is that this year compared to last, when we put in a new set of tyres, I can use the grip we have available and we can feel the difference. 

"Whereas last year when we put in a new tyre and I didn’t feel – ok I felt a bit more grip, but I couldn’t use it because it came with a lot of other negative points. 

"In general the balance of our bike is quite different compared to last year. I think it will help us quite a lot, especially in one lap pace, but over race distance I think it will be kinder to our tyres. 

"We’re going to have to wait and see. I need to go and sit with the guys. Let’s go and make the best plan possible to have a good day tomorrow and go into Qatar ready."

Even if KTM does make steps forward with regards to qualifying pace, Binder believes advancing into Q2 could once again be a problem due Ducati’s overwhelming number of bikes (8), coupled with their impressive one lap pace which was more often than not the best in 2021.

Binder continued: "The reality is they’re super fast over one lap. It was hard last year to get into Q2 because there are so many of them up front. 

"I presume it’ll be the same this year. We just have to keep working at it and get ourselves amongst it."