2020 and the rise of ’BB’ king
By Morgan Bolton
JOHANNESBURG - The thing about a diamond in the rough is that you know there is something precious underneath but it takes a bit of work, a bit of polish, and a bit of time to get to the kernel of its brilliance.
That has been the case with Brad Binder throughout his career - his talent is undisputed, it just needs to be taken to the grinding stone for its full potential to be revealed. Again, in his debut year of MotoGP, the 25-year-old presented his rough blueprint, and now as he prepares for his second year in the elite class, that plan will be refined and improved.
“On the one hand I feel ready and I know what I need to improve,” said Binder this past week about his upcoming sophomore year with Red Bull KTM. “On the other hand I haven't been to half the circuits on the bike with the new, short, double header calender we had this year. So, there are going to be some tough times,” he continued.
“I think I understand quite well now what I need to do to go faster and I feel I am very far from my peak. I feel like I have a whole lot more to offer and once I manage to get that right and figure out how it works, I think I can do an incredible job.”
And there is no reason to believe that Binder will not improve when the race calendar starts in Qatar in March. As shown during his career in the lower classes, there will only be an upswing in his performances.
It took him four years to win the Moto3 world championship, finishing in 24th in 2012, then 13th, 11th, sixth and finally first. In Moto2, his getting to grips with his new ride was even quicker.
In his second year in 2018, he finished third, a season later he completed the calendar as the second best driver in the field. In MotoGP this year he lifted the Rookie of the Year award and missed the team's objective of a 10th place finish in the world championship standings by one position. Everything is, therefore, set for him to make a charge into the top 10 next year.
"Ja, this year to sum it up, I had a lot of ups and downs,“ said Binder of the truncated, Covid-19 hit calendar. "We had some great times, like winning the first GP in Czech Republic.”
“For me it was huge but also after that it was tough ...”
That victory in Brno announced Binder as a future star but it also afforded the Krugersdorp native an opportunity to tick off another important milestone in his career - beating Valentino Rossi.
Said Binder of beating 'The Doctor': “It's funny because I thought it would be a big deal but when you get on the grid, you just want to beat everybody regardless of who they are or what they are.”
"It was cool,“ he continued, ”it was amazing ... it gives you confidence, it gives you a lot more self-belief, and, ja, I feel like I belong in MotoGP now, and I want to make my mark on it.“
The ultimate mark, of course, is to win the world championship, and Binder believes he has the talent and the support to do so.
“It is amazing to see how much support I have in SA and how many people really back me and seem to enjoy the racing as much as I do,” said Binder. “As I have come through my career, I've seen the sport grow here and I just really love to get a World Championship and bring it home to SA one day.”
Binder is not alone in his journey. He is joined in the pitlane by his younger brother, Darryn, who also made waves in Moto3 this past year when he won his first race at the Catalan GP. Both are currently participating in the 265km sani2c mountain-bike race in KwaZulu-Natal this weekend, and while they are competing against each other there, it will take another few years to see the Binder Brothers together on the MotoGP grid.
“I was super proud of my brother,” said the elder Binder of Darryn's first win and season in general.
"To see him win a race was incredible ... You know, I say I have had some tough times but my brother, he really knows how to make life hard for himself but I am proud of him,“ Binder said with a chuckle.
“I'd like to say very, very soon (Darryn joining MotoGP) but we are going to have to give (him) a good ... I'd say another three seasons and maybe then there is a good chance of it happening.”
Indeed, there is a good chance of it happening, for just like ’BB’, Darryn is also chipping away at the rough. Next year will show how much both have been polished and hopefully they will shine brilliant.