AP Photo/Andy Brownbill.
South African motorcycling star Brad Binder spends most of his time in Spain due to international racing commitments but always comes home to Mzansi for a visit during the off season.

We caught up with the 2016 Moto3 world champion at Welkom’s Phakisa racetrack last Friday where he was the star attraction at a track day hosted by Dunlop tyres. Bikers had the opportunity to meet, greet and ride with Binder just before he embarks on his second season of Moto2.

Despite an injury-plagued 2017 season where he spent much of the time in the mid field, the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider hit his stride towards the end of the year by scoring three consecutive podium positions that lifted him to 8th overall in the championship, leaving him in a confident mood going into 2018.

Binder missed three races last year after undergoing further surgery to repair the arm he broke during a late season test in Valencia at the end of 2016, shortly after winning that year’s Moto3 title. After fighting through the pain in the opening Moto2 rounds, the decision was made for Binder to have the surgery and come back healthy in June.

After the comeback didn’t initially go as expected and left him struggling for pace in the first few races, we asked Brad to what he attributed his strong showing in those final three rounds, where he scored second places in Australia and Malaysia and a third at the Valencia season-ender.

“That injury took so long to heal, but at the end of the year I just gained some extra confidence,” says Binder, adding that the arm is now perfectly healed.

He says it also took a little time to adapt to the more powerful Moto2 class, and the racing wasn’t as tactical as in Moto3 where the bikes were very similar in performance and much depended on slipstreaming.

Going forward, the 22 year old believes that if he makes a strong showing this season he hopes to move up into the top-tier MotoGP championship as early as next year, racing against the likes of superstars Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez. That would be a dream come true for the Potchefstroom-born boykie.

“I feel I can really do a good job this season. If I can ride the way I ended off last year, I feel I can fight for the championship,” says Brad, whose 2016 Moto3 title made him South Africa’s first motorcycle world champion since Jon Ekerold won the 350cc title in 1980. The other South African to win a motorcycling championship is Kork Ballington, who won consecutive 250cc and 350cc double titles in 1978 and 1979.

As previously there will be two Binders to shout for this season with Brad’s younger brother, Darryn, embarking on his fourth year in the Moto3 championship. He will be moving to Brad’s old team, KTM Ajo.

File picture: @RedBull_KTM_Ajo on Twitter.