World news – MOTOGP: Binder is aiming for a superior start to the new season after receiving the rookie-of-the-year status in 2020


Brad Binder will perform at the MotoGP test in Doha, Qatar on March 10, 2021. (Photo: Gold Goose / Red Bull Content Pool)

Brad Binder, the first South African to win a top-class motorcycling Grand Prix, spent the off-season on other two-wheelers as he prepared for the 2021 MotoGP campaign .

Motocross and mountain biking were part of his regime from his parents’ base on the western edge of Johannesburg during the Christmas season. He squeezed into golf (another passion, but one he’s not very good at, he admits) but only found his way back on track to pre-season testing last month in Qatar.

The first MotoGP race of the season will also take place in Qatar this weekend. After all the talk and speculation, the training sessions on Friday and Saturday give the first real clue as to who is where in the cutthroat world of Grand Prix cycling.

« The preseason was great, in terms of training and preparation Binder said in an email from his publicists.

« We were supposed to start our first test in Japan in early February, but it was canceled and postponed to a date that was only a few weeks ago in Qatar. That’s why we unfortunately missed a few test days there.

“It was tough for us, the start was not ideal or as expected. We just have to stay focused and now is the time we can work for either first or 15th place but I am confident that we will make it in time. “

Binder was 2020 MotoGP Rookie of the Year, which included a race win in Brno in the Czech Republic and the first Red Bull KTM Factory Racing win in the premier class. It turned out to be their last win in the campaign, but Binder is confident that more wins are possible in 2021.

« Last year’s win has come and gone and now I’m looking forward to a repeat in this one Year, « Binder said in a recent interview with « After winning a Grand Prix, I understand how MotoGP works a little better and how I have a full season behind me.

 » The 2020 season exceeded all of our expectations and we have a lot with some good results achieved, with Red Bull KTM and my first win being the main highlights.

“But we also had so many days with the potential for so much more. I’ve made many mistakes and thrown away many golden opportunities. That was frustrating and one thing I want to fix because I know we have the pace and can do a good job.

« Now that I’m in my sophomore year, the margins are a little smaller to me Over the last year things got better and better despite a dip in the middle. Not just the results, but the way I performed on the weekends. ”

With a full 21 race expected – Schedule in 2021 after the shortened 2020 season last year, Binder also has to learn to use his bike on routes that he has not ridden before in this division.

It may seem like a small detail, but the performance of a MotoGP bike means that braking zones and curve lines are very different among many other aspects on a more powerful machine. « I will have a lot of new tracks to learn in 2021 and it will certainly be a challenge, » said Binder. The main thing is that I understand the machine under me much better and understand better how to ride a bike. Hopefully this means that learning these new tracks isn’t that much of a challenge.

“Right now I feel like we have a really strong package. We started last season well and have improved. I feel like in 2021 I will have a unique opportunity to show what I am capable of.

« In the off-season I had the time to think about everything I learned in 2020 because during During the season with so many back-to-back races there was really no time to understand the details. « 

 » After a few months, it became much clearer to me what I need to improve. I need to stay on the bike a little more, make fewer mistakes and have a little more confidence and worry less because the job I can do is enough. “

Binder will have a new team-mate in Portugal’s Miguel Oliveira after the Spaniard Pol Espargaró joined Repsol Honda. Oliveira won two Grand Prix in 2020 and is sure to push Binder hard out of the KTM Factory Racing garage.

« It’s really cool to have Miguel as my team-mate. He’s a really cool guy. We’ve always got along a lot well understood, « said Binder. “I think we can really push Red Bull KTM forward. I’m sure we can do a really great job between us.

“The goal for me right now is that I really want to fight for a podium, every weekend would be fantastic. If we could run around this front line battle and keep pushing, we would have the opportunity to learn a lot more and move on a little from there.

“I think we have everything we need to really be there. We just have to try and put all the little things together and move on from there. « 

Last year’s surprise world champion, Joan Mir, who drives a Suzuki, will find that winning the title is one thing, but holding onto it in 2021 is another.

I will return too of the Spanish compatriot and six-time MotoGP world champion Marc Márquez, while veteran Valentino Rossi is still fighting for the title despite his 42-year history.

“Last year we had a really good season, a dream to reach the championship. We are here in Qatar, everyone is starting from scratch and it will be important to feel great here, « said Mir at the media conference before the race in Qatar.

 » The tests weren’t bad but we still have a lot to do. I’m looking forward to this season, we have a big challenge ahead of us to defend the title and we will do as well as we can so let’s see. « 

Pol Espargaró, who returned to who will start alongside Marquez (he is absent from Qatar) joined the famous team after a gloomy 2020 with no wins.

The Repsol Honda team had MotoGP for six seasons prior to 2020 dominated, but Márquez’s fall in the preseason, which excluded him for the rest of the campaign, left the team leaderless.

Espargaró, who was often faster than Binder as a team-mate last year, is believed to be Márquez’s successor at Honda . He has to start taking race wins now. But the Honda bike is notoriously difficult to handle because its strength makes it hideous.

« In the past, when I heard someone say this bike was very difficult, I always thought the same thing. For me a bike with a manufacturer can be very difficult and for a rider with a riding style that is better than this easy one. « Pol Espargaró said.

 » For me the Honda is definitely not the easiest, but I disagree admitted to being the toughest bike on the grid. « You just have to match the style of riding the bike and it feels like I did that a little while testing it.

 » I don’t know how much I do as it is difficult to judge how much I am connected to the bike after four days. I would take this idea up, the bike is difficult and I want to start being positive, being proactive and trying to make things happen.

“As of here in Qatar, it’s not the best place for Honda or me but the tests were pretty positive but we’ll try to see what we can do in the first few races even if we’re still bike beginners. « DM

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