The rise of Brad Binder – From 0 points to MotoGP winner
In 2011, Brad Binder finished his debut 125cc season with 0 points and a best result of P17, in 2020 he is a MotoGP class winner
At Brno 2020, Brad Binder made history becoming the first premier class winner from South Africa, he also gave KTM their first race win since they joined the premier class 2016. We take a look at what got him to this point.
Brad Binder joined the lightweight 125cc class in 2011 with 5 appearances racing alongside the Red Bull Rookies Cup, winning Race 1 at Estoril and taking seventh overall in the standings in the cup. Brad did not score a point in the 125 class however his Rookies Cup performances were enough to secure him a full-time Moto3 ride for 2012 with RW Racing GP on a Kalex KTM, Binder took 4 points-scoring finishes, finishing the race at Valencia in P4.
In 2013 Binder continued this rise moving to the Ambrogio Racing team, finishing in the points in all of the first eight races with a best result of fourth at Jerez. At round 12, the team moved to Indian Mahindra bikes where he took just one top 10 finish in the closing rounds of the season, Brad finished the season in P13 overall with 66 points. In 2014 he remained with the same team and really started to show his form taking his first two Moto3 podiums at Sachsenring (P2) and Motegi (P3), this was backed up with 10 top 10 finishes, finishing the season in P11 overall with a massive 109 points.
2015 was the beginning of a story of loyalty between KTM and Binder, Brad moved to the Red Bull KTM Ajo squad alongside Miguel Oliveira and Karel Hanika and was suddenly the new kid on the block, Binder took four podiums and 14 top 10 finishes, Aki Ajo changed Binder into a true title contender for 2016 and Brad did not disappoint.
In 2016 Binder took a huge 7 wins and 14 podiums to take the Moto3 World Championship, Binder took his first Grand Prix win at Jerez starting from the very back of the grid, picking off his opponents one by one, Binder then won the following two races after and dominated the rest of the Moto3 season.
It was announced for 2017 that Brad would move to Moto2 remaining with the Red Bull KTM Ajo squad with Miguel Oliveira.
Binder on his way to his first Moto3 win at Jerez on the KTM RC250R
Moving to Moto2 as a world champion was an incredible achievement, Brad raced the new KTM Moto2 chassis in 2017, missing three rounds due to injury. He took 10 top 10’s in his rookie season and three back to back podiums at Phillip Island, Malaysia and Valencia, emerging as a title contender for 2018.
2018 was an impressive year for Binder, he took 3 podiums all season, all of them were race wins and placed in the top 10 for every race he finished, he finished the season third in the standings behind teammate Oliveira and Francesco Bagnaia who dominated the season.
2019 was hotting up to be a great season, unfortunately, this wasn’t the case, the KTM chassis majorly struggled in the first part of the season, it was eventually announced that the chassis will withdraw from the class in 2020. This did not help Binders issues, however finally at Assen, Binder found the answer to his woes and took his first podium of the season at round eight. Binder followed this up with five wins and nine podiums, losing the Moto2 world championship by a mere 3 points leaving KTM cursing their issues which led to Binder scoring outside of the top 10 in the opening rounds of the season, costing them the title.
It was announced Brad Binder would move to MotoGP for 2020 with the Tech3 MotoGP team to re-unite with Miguel Oliveira, however this did not last long as Zarco left the KTM outfit and with Herve Poncharal not wanting to give up Oliveira just yet, Binder signed for the Red Bull KTM Factory MotoGP team, solidifying a 5-year relationship between manufacturer and rider.
Binder on the Moto2 KTM
The 2020 MotoGP season began with the usual Valencia 2019 test, Binder finished this dead last. The South African remained positive saying that the speed will come, before the season started it was announced Binder would stay with the team for 2021 with Moto3 and Moto2 teammate Miguel Oliveira joining the South African once again.
The season was majorly affected by the COVID-19 virus, this meant that riders had less track time under their belts when they arrived at Jerez. This did not phase Binder who instantly gelled to the bike and track, qualifying in 11th, Binder ran as high as seventh in the race before running off the track to last place before recovering to P13 overall, setting some of the fastest laps of the race.
Andalusia was a similar tale, Binder qualified in P9 however disaster struck at the first corner with Binder crashing into previous and future teammate Miguel Oliveira, suffering a DNF on lap one. This left a bitter taste in the mouth of Binder, he knew he had pace but could not prove this in the race.
He had two weeks off to think and prepare himself for Brno. Binder qualified in an impressive P7 and pulled off an incredible race, the South African diced through the pack before overtaking Franco Morbidelli to take the race lead. Brad continued to set the pace and took it home to win the race.
It was a dream Binder had wished for since he was a child, he was a MotoGP race winner, taking KTM’s first race win in the class and the first for a South African in the premier class. He is the first rookie race winner since Marc Marquez with Binder doing so in only his third race, joining an elite list of names including Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and idol Valentino Rossi.
What can we expect from Binder? Can he take some more wins this year? It remains to be seen but we know one thing, there’s a new kid on the block and his name is Brad Binder.
Binder on his way to his first MotoGP win on the KTM RC16
Featured image – www.motogp.com