Brad Binder banking on data to show him the way this season
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JOHANNESBURG - Brad Binder had a tough ol' time of it at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar this weekend.
The South African, now in his second year of the elite MotoGP, qualified 19th for the season-opening GP, and finished a miserable 14th. His teammate, Miguel Oliveira of Spain, placed one spot better in 13th, the two riders collecting two and three points in the world championship, respectively.
It was not KTMs finest hour, and they were well below the pace and promise shown last year. Even so, Binder believes that there is now enough information to improve on these results, while also explaining where his team will have to improve his ride's deficiencies, with the upcoming Tissot Grand Prix of Doha on Sunday, at the same track.
“It is good to have the first race of the season under our belts but we didn't finish close to where we wanted,” said Binder.
“For sure the whole team expected much more. We have to accept reality and there is work to be done at this circuit. In the first part I thought we could be competitive but at half race distance I completely lost my front tyre.
“It was a case of either bring the bike home safely at the pace I was doing or lose the front. It was difficult but now we have data from the first race and we can move on from here,” Binder concluded.
Nonetheless, it will have to be a huge leap forward for team and riders alike if Binder and Co are to even remotely challenge the front-runners this weekend. Spain's Maverick Vinales of Yamaha claimed an impressive victory and was over 14 seconds faster than Binder, and 11.457 seconds ahead of Oliveira. KTM race manager, Mike Leitner, however, insisted after the race that the gap between the leading group and the KTMs, while intimidating, was not insurmountable.
Said Leitner: “We knew it would be a tough season-start for us but the beginning of the race was strong and we were right there in the middle of the group.
“We suffered in the last third though,” he continued, “and lost lap-times, so we have to work on this. It's not a disaster - we are 11 seconds behind the winner - but this category is very close and we have to find these seconds.”
Only hours now until 2021 #MotoGP begins in earnest. Have a look at the new #KTM #Blog post for five small details you might not have known about @Tech3Racing: https://t.co/h5C28u6CZM #ReadyToRace pic.twitter.com/ii0KtFmO97— KTM Factory Racing (@KTM_Racing) March 25, 2021
Meanwhile, in Moto3, Brad's younger brother, Darryn, secured his first podium of the season. It wasn't unexpected - the Petronas Sprinta Racing team was considered to be a championship contenders, even before the race and during pre-season.
Darryn could have won a thrilling GP, but a cross-wind made it near impossible to hold onto any of the front positions on the straight as riders used the slipstream to their full advantage.
A lunge for first place towards the end of the event resulted in Darryn losing a fraction of time, forcing him to settle for a hard-fought, but thoroughly deserved, third-place finish.
If his pace is an indicator of what is to be expected in future races, then the younger Binder should find himself on the top step sooner, rather than later - and even possible in the championship hunt.