Brad Binder: ’It's a pity I can't find my Sunday form on Friday’
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JOHANNESBURG - Brad Binder is becoming something of a recovery specialist in race conditions, and on Sunday even received a nod of comparison to legend Valentino Rossi by the commentators for his ability to seize the best of a desperate situation, and make an impact on the field.
Starting from 15th on the grid in the third MotoGP race of the calendar, the 25-year-old managed to eke out the best from his Red Bull KTM at the Portuguese GP to claim a hard-fought, and rather unexpected fifth-place finish. After a tumultuous first two races at the Losail International Circuit in Bahrain, it was an excellent piece of driving and promised that the hard work that the team is putting into making their bike competitive is paying off.
Binder was a second faster than his expected race-time projection, his fastest lap of the race coming in the 17th lap when he clocked in at 1.39.850 seconds, 0.500 seconds slower than the fastest lap of the GP set by Spaniard Alex Rins. He reached a top speed of 164.4km/h - not too shabby when compared to the 164.8km/h recorded by eventual winner Fabio Quartararo of France.
The biggest concern for the 2020 Rookie of the Year, however, will be his continued inability to set a competitive qualifying time, and one would expect that if only he could get closer to the front of the field, he certainly has the machinery to claim a podium finish. He admitted as much while commenting on his efforts while speaking to motogp.com after the race this past weekend.
Said Binder: "It's a pity I can't find my Sunday form on Friday; that would make life a whole lot easier.
"(Sunday) was good," he continued. "I had a really good start, from 15th to eighth, I think, in the first corner. I tried my hardest to stay with the guys at the beginning but it was really really difficult. Eventually, I just tried to settle down into my own rhythm and just make the best of it and I was super happy to almost stay with this podium group and in the last few laps I managed to catch up a little bit. I was getting a bit excited, thinking maybe I was in for a shot but I couldn't close the gap completely.
Nevertheless, Binder should be pleased with his efforts. As the race came to a close, he found himself within touching distance of the leading group, and could have made a fist of it if there were a handful of laps more in the race.
“Happy to get our first top five of the season," Binder said. "I really wanted to be on the podium on (Sunday) and thought we had the potential to be there with about five laps to go.
"I pushed as hard as I could but I couldn’t put the key clean laps together at the end as much as I wanted. Overall, I gave my absolute best (Sunday) and didn’t leave anything on the table. A massive thanks to the team because we did a great job getting the bike ready for the race and we’ll go again in Jerez.”
Speaking of the Spanish GP, Binder has a bone to pick with the Circuit of Jerez in a fortnight, saying of that GP: "Well, Jerez, I've got some unfinished business there.
"Last year I was quite strong and I felt quite good (in Jerez), and the first race I ran off the track and the second race, I ended up crashing. So, I'd say I really like to have a strong race in Jerez and try and keep our momentum building."
Meanwhile, Brad's younger brother, Darryn had a race to forget in the Moto3 category, the Petronas Sprinta Racing driver finishing 20th after being starting in the pitlane - a penalty for dangerous driving during qualifying.