MotoGP: Binder pulls off an all-time great on KTM home turf!
Fortune favours the brave! That certainly rings true this Sunday but it takes more than bravery to wrestle a MotoGP™ bike around a wet track on slicks, with a race win on the line, in your factory’s home race. It also takes some serious skill and talent. Enter Brand Binder!
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) had the perfect mixture of each to take victory in the Bitci Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich, the South African disappearing down the start finish straight alone to hold his nerve as those around him peeled into pitlane in an all-time classic flag-to-flag. He somehow pulled it off for a second premier class win and the first for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team on home turf: Sunday rider, on many occasions.
Behind the sheer daring of the man in the lead, the fight for second was instead an electrifying charge from those who made the opposite gamble. In the end, it was won by Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) as the Italian put on a show that, on nearly any other Sunday, would have likely delivered him a maiden MotoGP™ win. And behind him, Styrian GP winner and rookie Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) found some more magic, another who switched to wets and charged through to make it work.
It started well for the Spaniard too and it was Martin took the holeshot, the rookie once again solid under the added pressure of pole, with Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) getting a little too close for comfort and heading wide – allowing Bagnaia through into second. And as the White Flag came out to show some spots of rain, meaning riders were allowed to change bikes, Bagnaia took over at the front and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) found himself the sole Honda in a Ducati armada at the front. Quartararo dropped down to sixth behind Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team), although he did hit back as Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) watched on behind that duel.
Bagnaia pounded on at the front, with Martin trying to attack but losing out from the move. So Bagnaia it remained, with Quartararo charging back through into second and even taking the lead as the rain flags came out… again. But Bagnaia muscled back through at Turn 1, and Marc Marquez homed in on El Diablo to boot.
Bagnaia, Quartararo, Marquez, Martin and Zarco marched on, with Mir then battling past Miller to become the man on the chase. And soon enough the top three started to pull away, Mir reeled in the Pramac riders, and the Brad Binder Sunday charge was well underway as the South African homed in on Miller. From tenth on the grid, the number 33 was on the way.
Suddenly, drama then hit for a frontrunner as Zarco crashed out. Sliding off at Turn 9, the Frenchman’s Championship charge took a dent as he couldn’t get back on either. And not long after, Quartararo headed a little wide… allowing Marquez to get back on the chase after Bagnaia. And with 7 to go, the eight-time World Champion struck for the first time. Bagnaia hit back, but a few cards were on the table.
With five to go, and the rain flags still out, the first gamble: Miller and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) pitted, rolling their dice earlier than the rest as Bagnaia continued on at the front. But what had started to seem a clear trio was fast becoming a six-man freight train as Martin and Mir homed in, and the Jaws music could start to fade in: Binder was coming. The South African didn’t win on on one gamble.
With 4 to go, Binder was on the scene, Martin was already past Quartararo for third, and Bagnaia headed wide at Turn 1, giving Marc Marquez the lead. In the braking zone for Turn 3, Martin screeched up the inside of Bagnaia, and then Quartararo pulled off the perfect dance between madness and excellence to shoot past both, back into second. The shuffle continued, and the rain got heavier and heavier. By the time the six-rider train reached the pit entry, there was a clear decision for five of them: it was time to change. So Marquez, Bagnaia, Martin, Quartararo and Mir headed in to swap… and a lone KTM swept round the final corner and tucked in down the main straight. Binder was going all in.
Out of pitlane, the five were Marc Marquez leading Bagnaia – and both immediately hammering it – with Martin next up, Mir in fourth of the group and Quartararo losing out slightly at the rear of the train. But Bagnaia headed in hot at Turn 3 and lost out to Martin… and then Marc Marquez slid out. A lowside at Turn 1 saw the number 93 lose a shot at the podium, with Bagnaia leading Martin and both taking over in the fight back through. Mir and Quartararo also headed well wide, with the clock ticking and just under 2 laps to go.
When he made the decision to stay out, Binder had been a few of seconds ahead of Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), who also gambled on slicks and was in second. By the time the number 33 crossed the line to start the penultimate lap, the South African was 7 clear. Starting the final lap, the gap was over 11.
Bagnaia and Martin, meanwhile, started that final lap in eighth and ninth. And by halfway round, the two were cutting through Binder’s fellow gamblers like there were two categories on track. Second and third were locked down well before the final corner, with the two pushing to perfection to cut the gap.
Ahead of them, though, arguably the wrong decision was turned into the perfect hand in the right hands. Binder’s final lap saw him suffer a couple of moments, but he had somehow pulled it off. In the rain, in KTM’s backyard, with the brakes suffering in the conditions and the tyres the opposite of the weather, the South African made a little more history. And this time around, it wasn’t a statistical milestone, it was pure, instant legend: add bravery and stir.
Behind Binder’s miracle ballet and Bagnaia and Martin’s charge to the podium, there was plenty to sort out. Mir made it home in a solid fourth place to make some good gains in the standings, with Luca Marini (Sky VR46 Avintia) making some magic for fifth place on slicks. Iker Lecuona (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) had been ahead of both and in podium contention but dropped to sixth, the Spaniard getting a little less reward for his earlier bravery than he likely hoped for, but he did hold off Quartararo as the Championship leader came home seventh.
Nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was in podium contention too before the final lap and he finished eighth, but some good points for the Doctor, who was also highly entertained by the shuffle and the challenge. Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) took ninth, with Aleix Espargaro ultimately completing the top ten.
Miller’s early gamble didn’t pay off and he finished in P11, ahead of Danilo Petrucci (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) by almost nothing. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) was next up, with Rins a little further out of touch behind. The final point went to Marc Marquez, who may have gambled and lost, but still very much didn’t give up.
And so a new legend is written into the history books, with another win on home turf for KTM and a second premier class victory for Binder. How they did it, and how the South African forced fortune to favour the brave, will be a long time in the memory of MotoGP™ fans, and likely a few of the number 33’s rivals. Legend Binder!
Brad Binder: “When I saw everyone tipping into the pits, I saw an opportunity and I decided I’d rather risk it and crash rather than maybe get top five. It’s a big Grand Prix for us, for KTM, for Red Bull. I’ve won here in Moto2 and I know what it’s like to win here at their home GP. To do it in MotoGP is an unbelievable feeling. Huge gamble, but I’m really glad it paid off.
“I knew when there were 3 laps to go, if I didn’t come in when they did I wasn’t going to come in at all. And yeah, I made it to the end somehow! The biggest problem was no brakes, the carbon brakes were cold and as soon as the rear tyre cooled off I couldn’t open the throttle either. Somehow I made it round the track, and a couple of times I thought it was over but I kept it up straight. So happy, so happy this gamble paid off… Fortune favours the brave” is a Binder family motto, apparently…
MotoGP™ podium (Full Results here)
1 Brad Binder – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing – KTM – 40:43.928
2 Francesco Bagnaia – Ducati Lenovo Team – Ducati – +12.991
3 Jorge Martin* – Pramac Racing – Ducati – +14.570
Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) hit back in style in the Bitci Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich, the Spaniard hitting the front early and just about able to hold off fellow fast rookie Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) to the flag. Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) completed the podium, as he did in Styria, with Championship leader Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) down in seventh and last week’s winner Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) in tenth.
Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) took the holeshot from pole, just about able to fight off Raul Fernandez as the rookie looked for a way through. Ogura slotted into third from the front row, with Augusto Fernandez for close company… so an as-you-were for the top four on the grid.
One rider who didn’t get the best start was Championship leader Gardner, getting shuffled out at Turn 1, whereas Styrian GP winner Bezzecchi did the opposite. Despite starting 11 places apart, two of the big players in the title fight were close together on track after a handful of laps, fighting over ninth.
Raul Fernandez, meanwhile, had hit the front, and not long after that Ogura struck to take second from Lowes at Turn 3. Augusto Fernandez was the next to attack the Brit at the same place, moving through on his teammate into third.
As the laps ticked on, Raul Fernandez, Ogura and Augusto Fernandez were able to start making a gap back to Lowes, Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) crashed out of the top five and Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) were holding off Styrian GP podium finisher Aron Canet (Aspar Team Moto2)… with quite a gap back to Gardner.
The Australian, in turn, had made his escape from Bezzecchi, pulling away from his key rival and then homing in on Canet. The two went toe to toe but Gardner was able to make it stick. So Fernandez 25 led Ogura led Fernandez 37 at the front, Lowes was just about hanging on in fourth and Chantra vs Vietti raged on for fifth, with the gap back to Gardner likely too much by that point for the points leader to really dent.
As the laps couple of laps started, Ogura was really homing in. The Japanese rider got to within a couple of tenths of the Red Bull KTM Ajo in the lead, and seemed to be readying a move. But Raul Fernandez responded, just finding enough to stay ahead, crossing the line eight tenths clear to make some big gains in the standings. Ogura didn’t quite manage the win, but he did get his first Moto2™ podium a week on from being so close, the top two in Austria two rookies to boot.
Augusto Fernandez was able to pull out some space for a comfortable third, but teammate Sam Lowes took P4 and a good haul of points after disappointment last week with a run off. And then came the duel of the day…
It was a classic final corner move that decided it, with Vietti screeching through on Chantra and the two almost neck and neck over the line. But Vietti took it by 0.068… or did he? The Italian had actually exceeded track limits on the final lap, and was demoted a position. So Chantra takes fifth, his best Grand Prix finish to date, denying Vietti his standalone best Moto2™ finish to date. But the Italian does still equal that, with two sixths his best in the intermediate category.
Gardner took a lonely seventh, with Canet in some space in P8 too. Tom Lüthi (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) had a solid day’s work on close-to home turf, the Swiss veteran passing Bezzecchi and not far behind Canet by the flag. The aforementioned Bezzecchi ended his tough day in Austria in 10th.
Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) took 11th and some good points as he rebuilds some momentum, the Brit holding off Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) to the end. Tony Arbolino (Liqui Moly Intact GP) was 13th and close behind, with Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP 40) completing the points.
Raul Fernandez: “First, thanks to my team because they gave me the best bike for this situation, especially today it was a hot race, and really difficult, all the race with Ogura at the same time, it was difficult for me like that one week ago but they brought me what I needed to fight with them. Thanks to my team and my family, and especially to all the haters who said a week ago I’d never get another podium. Now I’m here with a victory… this is for all of you.”
Moto2™ podium (Full Results here)
1 Raul Fernandez – Red Bull KTM Ajo – Kalex – 37:19.890
2 Ai Ogura – Idemitsu Honda Team Asia – Kalex – +0.845
3 Augusto Fernandez – Elf Marc VDS Racing Team – Kalex – +2.747
Sergio Garcia (Santander Consumer Bank GASGAS Aspar Team) is back on top! A week on from the stunning duel for victory in the Styrian GP, the Spaniard came out swinging to fight his way to a third win of the year, just holding off Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech3) as the Turk got back in the front fight. Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) completed the podium in more good news for Garcia, as the Italian pipped Styria winner and Championship leader Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) on the final lap.
Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Racing Team) took the holeshot from pole, the Italian absolutely nailing it to escape with a little breathing space. But Öncü was soon on the chase to cut the gap, and initially the two were joined by Acosta in a breakaway at the front. Little by little the chasing group, led by Garcia, hunted them down, however… and by third race distance a lead group of six had formed: Fenati, Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo), his teammate and points leader Acosta, Öncü, Garcia and Foggia, with Petronas Sprinta Racing’s Darryn Binder and John McPhee in a chasing duo. Binder also had an incident with Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech3), with no action taken but the Japanese rider going down as some bad luck bit again.
By 12 to go, the Petronas Sprinta racing riders were on the scene, and the freight train was eight. Acosta also got a track limits warning with plenty of laps remaining to add a few more nerves, but Öncü, Masia, Acosta, and Fenati remained the key front four as the laps ticked down. And as the laps ticked down further, Binder and McPhee started to fade slightly too, with a gap reopening in front of the two Petronas bikes.
Izan Guevara (Santander Consumer Bank GASGAS Aspar), meanwhile, was going the opposite way: forwards. The rookie was the fastest man on track with 4 to go, and had homed in on Binder and McPhee. And he then pulled the two back towards the front group again as well, re-forming a freight train.
With 3 to go though, Garcia suddenly made a bigger move. The number 11 went from calmly sitting just behind the front few to striking for the lead, and Acosta reacted. He hit back, and then the pin was pulled. Öncü also felt the hurry up and got his elbows out, and the Turk was able to take the lead back from both, not content to watch the duel from afar one week on.
Heading onto the last lap, Öncü led Acosta with Garcia third, and the number 37 attacked for the lead at Turn 3. But Öncü held firm and the Championship leader had a foot off the peg, the move also dropping him into the clutches of Garcia. The Aspar rider didn’t need more of an invite to the elbows-out party, pushing through into second not long after as Acosta had another moment, a little off line, leaving him on the defensive.
With the corners running out, Garcia was homing in on Öncü. And at Turn 9 the number 11 struck, muscling his way through, cleanly, to leave only Turn 10 and the drag to the line. And Öncü tucked in to try and take him back, but it wasn’t to be as Garcia’s stunning ride up from P13 on the grid was completed with a win and an important one in the standings, as well as his third of the year. Öncü was just 0.027 off over the line, the Turk defeated for victory but taking his second Grand Prix podium.
Foggia attacked Acosta in unison with Garcia’s move on Öncü on the final lap, and the Leopard Racing rider kept that to the line too, defeating the Championship leader by 0.048. Fenati took fifth, with Masia the last of the first front group over the line in P6. McPhee got past Guevara for seventh, but the rookie nevertheless impressed with his eighth place, holding off Darryn Binder.
Kaito Toba (CIP Green Power) and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) duelled for tenth, with the former just coming out on top. Filip Salač (CarXpert PrüstelGP) and Stefano Nepa (BOE Owlride) had their own fight just behind for 12th, finishing in that order.
Front row starter Jeremy Alcoba (Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3) won the fight for 14th, ahead of Andi Izdihar (Honda Team Asia), Carlos Tatay (Avintia Esponsorama Moto3), Lorenzo Fellon (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Yuki Kunii (Honda Team Asia), and Riccardo Rossi (BOE Owlride) in a close group.
Sergio Garcia: “What a beautiful race for me! At the beginning was very difficult because the pace was very strong, but I pushed very hard to the limit, until the last moment and last corner, and got the victory, here in Austria. It’s amazing!”
Moto3™ podium (Full Results here)
1 Sergio Garcia – Santander Consumer GASGAS Aspar – GASGAS – 37:10.345
2 Deniz Öncü – Red Bull KTM Tech3 – KTM – +0.027
3 Dennis Foggia – Leopard Racing – Honda – +0.319