Binder brothers hoping for a French revolution
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It has been a tough old start of mixed fortunes to the 2021 MotoGP season for brothers Brad and Darryn Binder, and as they head into race day five of this year's calendar, both will hope that the French GP is where they will turn the corner - excuse the pun - and get back onto the podium steps.
Brad, and his Red Bull KTM team, have been hard at work since his retirement from a disappointing Spanish GP a fortnight ago. The team pounded the Jerez circuit post-race at the second free testing event, completing a whopping 200 laps on the fourth and final day alone. Much of their focus was on improving the use of the soft-front tyre, while being able to manage the medium-rear compound in race conditions, as the team prepares for a handful of tracks, Le Mans included, where it will be advantageous.
That work might not be immediately apparent this weekend, however, as it is expected the French GP will be a cold and wet one throughout.
Nevertheless, the elder Binder needs to put in a good result for team and country. The Bugatti Circuit has not always been kind to the 25-year-old though. He finished 12th in the race - also in wet conditions - last year in his debut season in MotoGP, and in 10 seasons, this year included, has enjoyed only one podium at the track - a victory in 2016 in the Moto3 category.
Even so, before crashing out of the Spanish GP, and during the Portuguese GP, Brad showed some good pace, and was even confident enough to run with the front-runners. Much will depend on his qualifying run, in which he has battled to make use of that pace to full effect. Brad has been the first to admit that his pace has not been up to scratch in qualification - he has not been in the top 10 on the grid this season - so an improved performance in that session will help his confidence immensely.
Younger brother, Darryn, meanwhile, will still no doubt be irritated by his 22nd-place finish in Spain. Darryn was in a prime position for a third podium this year in Jerez, but a dangerous charge by Turkish Deniz Oncu on the final corner of the Moto3 race, put an end to that ambition and demoted the Petronas Sprinta racing driver to his unfortunate position.
There is no doubt that Darryn has the pace to make another push this weekend, but unlike his brother who has been fighting the set-up of his bike, the 23-year-old finds himself in a battle of another sort.
Teenage sensation Pedro Acosta has been unstoppable in the category, winning all four races, and locking Darryn out of a first place finish in the two podiums he has collected thus far. The 16-year-old has taken every one by surprise, and Darryn will have to overcome that self-assurance from the KTM rider if he is to claim a first career victory.
The Moto3 race starts at 10.45am on Sunday morning, while the main event, the MotoGP starts at 2pm.