Brad Binder hopes highs and lows of the season will make him a better rider
JOHANNESBURG - “Brilliant! You beauty! A blazing victory for Brad Binder … A new star is born!”
With that proclamation, the 25-year-old announced himself on the world stage, storming to his first MotoGP victory earlier this year in Brno, Czech Republic, in his debut season in the elite class.
The triumph, the first for South Africa, set Binder on his path to become Rookie of the Year, although his season was hardly plain sailing.
Indeed, after his stunning and unexpected win in the third race of the year, Binder struggled to repeat the feat. After the season-ending Portuguese Grand Prix at the weekend, Binder did not mince his words when assessing his first season in MotoGP.
“All in all, my rookie year has come to a close and we managed to wrap up the Rookie of the Year award, which was a goal starting the season,” said Binder. “It’s been a tough but fantastic season with big highs and low lows.
“I think all of it will build me up to be a stronger rider next season.
“I want to say a massive thank you to everyone in the box and the entire team. The feeling is great and we have a competitive package for sure.”
It is true – Binder enjoyed moments of excellence, but his season was punctuated by a lack of consistency and a measured approach. Indeed, Binder retired from four of the 14 races, including the Portuguese Grand Prix.
It nearly cost him the Rookie award, but thankfully his only rival for the honour at the season-ending race, Alex Marques of Spain, failed to capitalise on the mistake, finally finishing 13 points behind the South African in the standings.
In five more races, Binder finished outside of the top 10.
Moreover, there were instances in those nine races, and throughout the season, that he was well set to finish on the podium, only for a lack of composure to stifle his podium chances.
And yet, despite those failings, nothing should be taken away from Binder’s accomplishments in his maiden MotoGP season.
His Czech Republic Grand Prix victory was indeed brilliant. He held his nerve, bobbing and weaving his way through the field. It introduced a host of new fans to the sport and made the former Moto3 world champion a household name in SA.
Ultimately, Binder would finish the season 11th in the riders’ championship on 87 points, 64 points behind eventual world champion Joan Mir.
Binder, and indeed his team KTM, are a work in progress, a team to watch in the years to come.
Binder has already repaid the faith KTM have shown in him after his surprise announcement as a rider in their factory team at the beginning of the year, and together they can only build towards something special next year and beyond.
Binder will next season be joined by former KTM Tech 3 rider Miguel Oliveira, who won his home race on Sunday, and with such competition, and the knowledge and wisdom gleaned from this past year, the best of Binder is yet to come.