‘This season is our best shot at the title’ - Binder| Christina Bulpett | MotoGP
Brad Binder heads into his fourth year in MotoGP and his ninth in Red Bull KTM colours as the South African sets his sights on 2023 success.
A double GP race winner in his opening two seasons in the premier class, alongside three podiums in 2022, Binder is hoping steps forward across the winter will give him what he needs to challenge consistently across the demanding season ahead.
“I’ve been many years with Red Bull KTM,” the 27-year-old said as the factory KTM team launched its 2023 livery. “It’s crazy to think it’ll be my ninth with them and fourth in MotoGP. It’s exciting.
“You know, I feel great this season. We ended last season in a good way, we left the last test with a lot of small improvements. Of course, there are things we need to work on but in general we’ve made a step forward. Any small step in MotoGP at the moment, considering how close it is… it can really go a long way. I really hope this is all building up into a season we expect from ourselves and hopefully we can get the results we know we’re capable of.”
“Sprint racing is going to be something that’s new to all of us,” Binder continued on the new addition for 2023. “A race in MotoGP on a Saturday is completely new but it’s something I’m excited for.
“I always prefer racing. If I had to choose between racing or laps in FP4, I’d definitely choose racing every time so… it’s exciting for us.
“It brings something completely new. You don’t need to worry about your tyre wear too much or anything like that. It’s going to be an all-out race and I’m sure a huge fight from beginning to end. So exciting! I’m really looking forward to seeing how the first one turns out in Portimao.”
One thing the South African is known for is his Sunday progression. Despite just one front row qualifying - at Motegi - in 2022, Binder was firmly in the mix come race day, converting two seventh place starts into podium successes in the season’s opening and closing Grand Prix alongside standout rides mid season.
“Sure, it’s very cool,” he said of his comeback status. It’s great but the only thing I worry about is podiums and winning races so… that’s my goal, that’s what I’m there to do. If you look at the bigger picture and how we had some really tough times last season… to finish 6th in the championship is great but by no means where I want to be.
“I want to be fighting with the guys all the time and I’m here to fight for the title. It’s what I want to achieve in my life.
“We just got to keep working and I honestly believe it’s something we can achieve. I think our best shot we’ve ever had at getting it right will be this season.”
With the title firmly in his sights, what is he expecting form the RC-16 as the paddock heads to Sepang for winter testing?
“Well, for me throughout last season it was extremely clear what we needed to be faster,” Binder admitted. “The thing was, it wasn’t just one specific point. Our bike did everything quite well, we just needed everything to be a tiny bit better. We needed better stopping, a little bit better turning and more rear grip. So they have brought us a new bike which we did test in Valencia and it definitely touched a few of our problems and I feel it’s got the potential to grow from there. Looking back, I’m excited to see where we can take this thing, and if we can find some rear grip and a bit of turning, it’ll go a long way.
“It’s going to be a new year for all of us, with the sprint races. Essentially there’s 21 Grands Prix but there’s 42 races, that’s double what we’ve ever had. It’s going to change the format up a lot.
“You’re going to have start-off really fast on a Friday because there’s no time to fix things on a Saturday because you go straight into qualifying and the race. It’s going to mix things up a little bit for sure, I think it’s going to be a lot more pressure to perform every weekend because there’s more points on offer. Any small mistake can be a lot more costly, the way I see it.
“With MotoGP at the minute, you don’t know whether you’re coming or going! You might be fighting for a podium one weekend but be two seconds off at the end of the race whilst fighting for fifth or sixth place.
“MotoGP at the minute is so tight and so competitive, it’s just as thrilling for us, the riders, as it is for the fans watching on TV!”