MotoGP Valencia: New chassis key to Binder’s comeback ride

| | MotoGP
Picture: GeeBee Images

Brad Binder showcased his Sunday skills once again at Valencia after recovering the Red Bull KTM MotoGP to second at the flag.

Lining up seventh and enjoying the first corner and opening lap skirmishes around him, Binder got his head down as the 2022 season finale got up to speed. The South African carefully picking off title challengers Pecco Bagnaia and Fabio Quartararo before making advances on the leading trio of Alex Rins, Jorge Martin and Jack Miller across the 27-lap race.

“I’m extremely happy to be back on the podium come the end of the season,” Binder said after crossing the line just over three tenths shy of eventual winner Rins. “It’s the first year I haven’t taken a victory in quite a few seasons, so this weekend I came with the mindset that I have to win! It didn’t quite work out but congratulations to Alex and Jorge, they did an amazing job today.

“I need to say thank you to my team. I have the most amazing crew behind me, some crazy and incredible people at KTM. We’ve had some great times this season and some really hard times too but we’ve always managed to give our absolute best come the race day.

“It’s good to finish top six in the world championship, for sure,” he continued, on his late season progress. “We made a step this weekend, which was fantastic because I’d been requesting a little bit more drive grip all year and they brought it for this race. I really hope that for the 2023 season we can find that last little bit to try and be a little bit more competitive every weekend. But yeah, we fought hard today. I tried so hard to get through the guys, unfortunately early on it was so difficult to pass people with the full fuel tank, but as soon as I started to lose a bit of fuel, I could brake a bit later and start to make some moves. Happy to have finished on the podium and let’s just keep fighting, see what Tuesday brings us and glad to have ended the season on a high.”

While the early race saw him caught in traffic, his late-race pace put Rins under threat - having dispatched Martin on the penultimate lap.

“As far as passing Pecco and Fabio, I was right behind them at the beginning of the race and obviously with the front pressure going up, the front feeling wasn’t great. So you’re already locking a lot and you don’t have great feeling on the front going into the corners. When you know you need a brake a little bit extra late to get past them, of course you don’t wanna wipe them out! But yeah, I’ve managed to get past both of them really clean, so that was great.

“They were having a full ding-dong at the beginning, it was pretty cool to watch but we lost a tonne of time.

“I think it was maybe about ten laps to go, I could see I was coming closer, each lap quite a bit. Each time I’d catch somebody it would take me a couple laps to get past so that really set me back a little bit. I knew it was going to be difficult because I was really pushing hard so I was also a little bit concerned my tyre was going to fall off a cliff but it didn’t, it stayed solid to the end so, great day for us.

“The test team have been working so hard. My entire crew have been working, I can’t say enough. We sit and we chat to try to figure things out till 10 o’clock every night and it’s days like this that make it worth it.”

Second in the race wasn’t the only accolade his impressive finish provided the team.

“When I heard that we finished second in the team championship, I thought it was a mistake!” Binder admitted. “To be honest, I wasn’t sure about it, so amazing that we manage that, that’s super cool.

“It’s been a little bit tricky this weekend to figure out this new chassis they brought. It’s a lot more difficult to stop and the front moves a lot but it clearly turns a little bit more and when I pick the bike up I have better grip, so that’s something I’ve been requesting this entire season. The guys brought it and it really touched our issues, which is fantastic. It was so cool, come the end of the race, I could actually change up my riding style a bit and prepare the exit of the corners and take an advantage whereas normally we’ll just start spinning and I wouldn’t go forward. Hats off to the guys, they did a great job to bring me the chassis this weekend and let’s see what they have in store for us on Tuesday.”

While Binder’s race antics have earned him a ‘comeback king’ label, some have questioned his qualifying abilities on the premier class machine.

“I don’t know if this come back thing is down to I can’t qualify or I really struggle in qualifying but I think our bike is really good over race distance to be honest,” he explained. “I think we’re missing a little bit in the full out performance, for sure but when it comes down to the race and you got to be consistent, our bikes really stays level throughout - which is fantastic, points on a Sunday!”

Picture: GeeBee Images
Picture: GeeBee Images