Brad Binder (left) celebrates with his team after signing on dotted line. Picture: Red Bull KTM Tech 3 via Twitter.

South African motorcycling star Brad Binder is stepping up to the MotoGP premier class next year, his team confirmed on Wednesday.

As expected, Binder, who won the Moto3 World Championship in 2016 before joining the Moto2 class, will remain with the Red Bull KTM Tech3 outfit, where he will ride a KTM RC16 alongside former team-mate Miguel Oliveira.

“To be able to sign Brad Binder for our MotoGP project is an exciting moment because he has been with us for five years already and is one of our world champions,” said KTM Motorsport Director Pit Beirer. 

“We also like the fact that Brad has this distinctive riding style that allows him to push a bike and project to the maximum. We feel that he ‘fits’ to us, and we cannot wait to see how he handles and attacks a MotoGP bike.”

Red Bull KTM Tech3 Team Manager Hervé Poncharal added: “Brad is somebody I have been following since he joined the championship in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup and later in the Moto3. I have always been amazed by his talent, his aggressivity and his never-give-up-attitude and when you run a motorcycle race team, this is the profile of rider you wish and you love to have."

Poncharal said that KTM was working incredibly hard to improve its MotoGP bike, and expressed confidence that Binder will be “very happy and very fast” from the get-go. 

Dream come true

For Binder himself, the move to MotoGP is a dream come true:

“It is incredible to have this opportunity,” the 23-year-old enthused. “I want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to KTM, Red Bull KTM Tech3, my manager and my family for helping me get to the premier class and to be able to give it a try.

“It is an amazing feeling right now and a dream come true. When you are growing up then this is what you aim for - to be in the MotoGP class with the best riders in the world with the best bikes – so it is a crazy feeling right now.”

Binder will be the first South African to compete in the four-stroke era, and could be the first to score significant points since the likes of Kork Ballington, Jon Ekerold and Brett Hudson in the early 1980s.

Binder is currently eighth in the Moto2 championship, after a rough start to the 2019 season, but he has shown impressive form in recent races, finishing second in the recent Motul TT Assen and in Sunday’s German Grand Prix, where he weaved his way through the field after starting from 17th on the grid to finish behind Alex Marquez. 

Binder moved to Moto2 in 2017, but had a difficult adjustment period, aggravated by an injury attained during winter testing, but he made a comeback in the 2018 Moto2 season, winning four races.

IOL Motoring