Darryn Binder’s arrival to MotoGP is a controversial one.
Darryn Binder becomes only the second rider after Jack Miller to jump from Moto3 into the MotoGP class completely bypassing Moto2 in the current four-stroke era.
The move much like Jack Miller’s at the time has been scrutinised by many, however unlike Miller, Binder’s Moto3 record doesn’t exactly warrant a MotoGP seat with six podiums and one victory in seven seasons compared to Jack Miller’s 10 podiums and 6 wins in the 2014 season alone.
Despite this, Binder is probably the only rider on the 2021 Moto3 grid who was built for MotoGP, his aggressive riding style, wider frame and ‘late on the brakes’ riding style works incredibly well with a MotoGP machine that needs to be bullied around on track, he may be riding the user-friendly Yamaha this year but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require some bullying with Fabio Quartararo noting that the 2021 machine required the rider to be a lot more aggressive than its 2019 counterpart.
Already in pre-season testing Binder has shown significant progress and finished the Mandalika test within two seconds of Pol Espargaro who was the fastest rider, he has already adapted to the MotoGP way of life with a lot more left in the tank as he continues to learn the class.
Smiles all round in Sepang.
He has come from the Moto3 series whereby the data and setup of the bike revolves around the feeling in your right hand and the tyres, in MotoGP it’s a whole new ballgame with the introduction of electronics to worry about plus tyres, carbon brakes and more.
Simply wrapping your head around trying to set up a bike which has its engine braking, engine maps and traction control tied to the GPS meaning it self adjusts each corner is more than enough for a rider to cope with, when you add the 300HP+ power and the adaptation of your riding style to the bike it really does change things a lot, therefore to only be two seconds off the pace after three tests is hugely impressive from the South African, especially when you compare that to Jack Miller who was 2.5 seconds off after the Sepang test in 2015.
Winding it back to his early Moto3 days, Darryn’s career began in the lightweight class on the uncompetitive Mahindra machine, this was a bike many have dubbed the ‘career destroyer’ given its dominance of the back end of the Moto3 grid with only one or two select riders with extreme talent being able to make it work such as Jorge Martin and Francesco Bagnaia.
In his Mahindra years of 2015 and 2016 Binder would score zero points in 2015 and 27 in 2016 including a best of P4 at Phillip Island, scoring points in four races this year. At last for 2017 his team would switch to KTM and gave him a fighting chance of battling at the front, very quickly he became a consistent points scorer opening the season with three back-to-back points finishes and a best result of P4 at Mugello, sadly he would get injured and was forced to miss four consecutive races but came home in P19 overall and gained himself a seat in the Red Bull KTM Ajo squad for 2018, the same team his brother Brad Binder had won the 2016 Moto3 title with.
The Moto3 Mahindra days.
2018 was in short a complete disaster that followed on from the disaster that the team had with Niccolo Antonelli in 2017, only this time Binder didn’t have a teammate to compare data with and ran as a one man band throughout the 2018 season, he had a few points scoring finishes and even took home his first podium at Japan but it only took him to P17 overall in the standings, his year would go from bad to worse in Valencia when Can Oncu made a wildcard appearance as his teammate, going on to win the race on his debut at 15 years old.
For 2019 and 2020 Binder raced for the CIP Moto3 team after leaving the fortress of Ajo, although he would finish in P22 overall in 2019 which was even lower than 2018, he made a huge leap forwards in the 2020 season and was a consistent top 10 finisher and took his first Moto3 victory at Catalunya coming home in P8 overall. It was good, but it wasn’t great and his overly aggressive riding style was creating him some enemies in the class and generated some bad press with Binder being nicknamed ‘Basher Binder’ for rubbing fairings with his fellow riders and often making moves when he had absolutely no right to.
He was getting older in the Moto3 class and needed to have a season worthy of a promotion. He made the decision to leave the CIP team and the KTM he had ridden since 2017 and opted to switch to Honda despite it being the inferior machine against the KTM, eventually signing with the Petronas SRT squad.
The dreaded Ajo days.
At the start of 2021 it looked like the move had set him up to fight for the title after standing on the podium in both races at Qatar, nearly winning at the line in the Doha Grand Prix but being bested at the line by Pedro Acosta, a minute 0.039 seconds separating the pair.
Following this race he wouldn’t score points for the following three rounds, tumbling down the championship standings in the process before revitalising his season at Mugello, from here he didn’t finish outside of the points all season long until the final two races, he was a consistent top 10 finisher and looked like he had calmed down his riding style, he wasn’t writing headlines for punting riders off the track and genuinely looked to be a changed rider.
As the season went on the Petronas SRT team looked to promote Binder up into the Moto2 series within the team, however the title sponsor Petronas had other ideas and completely withdrew their 2022 sponsorship which completely destroyed the teams plans for their Moto2 and Moto3 2022 seasons with two riders already signed for the 2022 season in Moto3. Thankfully though team principal Razlan Razali was able to save the project and continue in MotoGP.
Catalunya 2020, Darryn’s only Moto3 victory.
There were more issues for Petronas SRT on the way though, they had Valentino Rossi and Franco Morbidelli on the books for the 2021 season, however mid way though Rossi announced his retirement and Morbidelli was moved to race in the factory team in place of the defecting Maverick Viñales, this left the team with a two rider hole to fill.
Thankfully for the team Andrea Dovizioso was already on the sidelines testing for Aprilia giving Yamaha an opportunity to hire the Italian in place of Morbidelli continuing into the 2022 season, the issue was now the other side of the garage. Jake Dixon and Garrett Gerloff had been given chances to race in the team with neither penning a deal to race in the squad. The rumours of a possible jump from Moto3 to MotoGP for Binder had begun to swell and grow in a pretty surprising move.
Podium time in Qatar 2021.
Eventually after many talks Darryn would be officially confirmed to graduate to MotoGP for the 2022 season, an announcement that would be met with a lot of confusion and chatter with many believing he didn’t deserve the seat. This chat would be turned up to notch number 11 after the Portimao Grand Prix when Darryn effectively decided the Moto3 World Championship thanks to his unavoidable involvement in an incident that took himself, Sergio Garcia and title fighter Dennis Foggia out of the race, crowing Pedro Acosta as the champion in the process.
Despite this accident and many people calling for Binder to lose his 2022 seat, he has graduated into the premier class and will once again race against his brother Brad Binder who rides for the factory KTM squad firmly putting South Africa back onto the map.
With his impressive pre-season performances, a proven and solid team structure and a Yamaha between his legs there’s no doubt that Darryn will do all he can to prove the critics wrong.
Featured images – (Main) RNF Racing
1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – Dorna