Home competition discipline Binder’s battles continue despite late surge at Le Mans

Binder’s battles continue despite late surge at Le Mans

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To Binder’s credit, he did manage to launch himself past nine riders by the end of the first lap at Le Mans, and then fight to break into the top 10.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing South African rider Brad Binder (No.33) steers his bike during a race. Picture: KARIM JAAFAR, AFP

Morgan Bolton

There is no way that Brad Binder and Red Bull KTM will be pleased with their current performances in MotoGP, regardless of how they try to frame it in a positive light after the fact.

Five races into the season and it has gone a bit pear-shaped after a solid pre-season and spectacular opening round in Qatar, which promised consistent runs to the podium.

That threat has not materialised. Instead, in the past three races, both rider and team have struggled for top-10 finishes.

The Grand Prix of the Americas saw Binder battle to ninth, followed by a sixth-place finish in Spain and an eighth-place finish at Le Mans in the French GP this past weekend.

The ambition of Binder and Co is to be among the top three riders, an objective that is currently not being met.

In Spain, vibrations caused Binder to battle.

This past weekend, it was a “technical issue” that dropped him all the way down to starting the race in last place during qualifying.

To Binder’s credit, he did manage to launch himself past nine riders by the end of the first lap, and then fight to break into the top 10. It was an impressive recovery ride, secured with a lunge on the final lap, but surely they will accept among themselves that it is not good enough.

The sprint races have also been disastrous.

After the second-place finish in Qatar, Binder has not threatened on Saturdays at all, with two retirements in Portugal and Spain, a 12th-place finish at the Circuit of the Americas, and 15th at Le Mans.

It was a bad weekend overall for KTM. Binder was the best performer on Sunday with his teammate Jack Miller crashing out, while their sister team GasGas saw Pedro Acosta also not finishing, and Augusto Fernandez came in 13th.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though, as they remain second in the constructors’ championship but find themselves 63 points behind Ducati already.

Binder, meanwhile, remains seventh in the riders’ standings on 67 points, but the gap to the top three is only growing.

The winner in France and current leader of the championship, Jorge Martin, is 62 points ahead, while defending champion Fransceso Bagnaia is on 91 points with Marc Marques two points behind that.

The 28-year-old is a positive individual, and there was a degree of that which seeped through after the race on Sunday but one expects, with a fair amount of

concern. Said Binder: “I got a really good start but I wanted more from the race because I could see sixth place right in front of me.

“Anyway, we came from a long way back so I cannot complain. Also, we made a really big step from yesterday’s sprint race to today: I felt a lot better, more confident and was able to ride.

“I think we’ve got some work to do still but considering where we were on the grid we cannot be too upset.”

The next race remains in Spain, heading to the Catalunya GP next weekend, followed by Italy a week later.

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