Johannesburg - World champion Brad Binder could be regarded as a man of steel following his sensational Moto3 triumph. But the fact is that he does actually have some metal in his body at the moment.
“Unfortunately I was on my second-last day of testing on my new Moto2 bike, and I had a little moment where I was just sliding along pretty smoothly, but the bike came up and flicked on my arm. Right now, I’ve got seven screws and a plate in my left arm,” Binder said during a TV interview with SuperSport on Wednesday.
“That’s not ideal! But if was going to happen, it’s definitely at the best time that it could’ve happened. Straight away, I knew it broke. As soon as I felt the bike land on my arm, I knew straight away that it was broken.”
Binder arrived back home on Tuesday after completing an unforgettable year by winning the Valencia Grand Prix two weeks ago to cap off a champion season in style.
The 21-year-old from Potchefstroom became the first South African since Jon Ekerold (350cc) in 1980 to win a motorcycling world title, which included seven race wins in 2016.
Binder clinched the championship with a second-place finish at the Aragon Grand Prix with four more races to go, such was his dominance in the class, and which he describes as “the best feeling ever”. He will move up to Moto2 in 2017.
First he needs to get over the arm injury he sustained during testing on his Moto2 bike recently. He was initially told he would recover in about five weeks following surgery.
“Unfortunately, on Tuesday we went back to the doctor for new X-rays, and it seems like there might be a little complication or two. So we will go back tomorrow to find out exactly what’s going on,” Binder said.
But that is the future. Binder can bask in the glory of a magnificent achievement, and as he reflected on his season, he said a crash in the wet at the Czech Grand Prix in Brno was perhaps necessary.
“Sometimes it’s almost important to have a race like Brno,” he explained. “In my eyes, it brought me back down to earth, in a way. Things were... not getting too easy, but it was just that I would be having a terrible weekend and I would still be fighting for the win.
“All of a sudden, you start to almost dream. I went home and said to myself if I had won that race, I would’ve wrapped up the world title in a couple of races, and there would still be four or five races to go. That would’ve been great! But it definitely made it a bit more interesting and kept me on my toes.”
He admits that rubbing shoulders with legends such as Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez from MotoGP still made him excited, even though he was now also a world champion.
“The first time I went to a press conference was when I qualified on pole in Argentina. I walked into the room and I looked over and saw Rossi, (Jorge) Lorenzo and Marquez sitting next to me, and I was pretty star-struck. As the year went on, it became a bit more normal, and I would start chatting to Marquez every weekend. And Rossi was my hero,” Binder said.
“The awards evening was pretty cool. It definitely made things sink in a bit, as you are standing there with the other world champions. Valentino Rossi has been my hero. To see him every other weekend is a special feeling that I will never get over.”
Binder admits that he has been taken aback by the amount of support he has received in South Africa, and will put in the hard yards to reach the same heights in Moto2 next year.
“It was good for me, but also good for racing in South Africa. The support was incredible at the airport yesterday, and I hope to bring more victories,” he said.
“The Moto3 bike weighs 84kg and the Moto3 is around 140 or 150kg. It will be a lot more work and a lot harder, but I’m not setting myself any big goals.”