Underwhelming testing for Brad Binder and KTM ahead of new Moto GP season
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JOHANNESBURG - Testing is done, pre-season is dusted, now Brad Binder and KTM will have to weather the new MotoGP calendar at the end of the month having not achieved all their goals this past week.
It was an underwhelming five days for Binder and Co at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar as they completed their pre-season testing this past weekend in less than ideal conditions. The five day pre-season test - the sole testing event of the 2021 calendar - only had four days of solid runs as strong winds and dust on the final day prevented the majority of the grid from completing rotations on the track.
In those trying conditions KTM, who were evaluating a variation on their aerodynamics package and their WP Suspension system, along with a host of other new components, finished amongst the mid-card of the grid. Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira finished 16th in the combined standings, while Binder was one spot down on his new teammate - 1.3 seconds behind the front-runner Jack Miller of Australia on his Ducati. Even so, Binder remained optimistic at the close of the testing window.
“It was quite a tricky test for us,” said Binder.
“It started well but then I had a couple of small crashes and that interfered with our plan quite a bit. By the fourth day I was feeling a lot more comfortable again and riding the bike like I want. It would have been nice to have one more day but we'll come back here in a week or so with a couple of things still to try and, from which, I'm sure we'll up our game once more.”
It was a sentiment echoed by KTM race manager Mike Leitner.
“It was tough to put the whole winter test plan into five days, and at least we got four days in good conditions,” said Leitner.
“Losail has been a difficult track for us in the past and to use the strengths of our bike, but you need to deal with all sorts of conditions in a championship and sometimes it's not too bad to start in a place were you've struggled before. You can learn a lot from the process.
“Brad,” Leitner continued, “had a few crashes but we know how fast he is, and the fourth day was very good.”
The MotoGP season will return to Losail at the end of the month with season opening, back-to-back races on March 28, and April 4.