Brad Binder ’much happier’ with Qatar MotoGP sequel
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JOHANNESBURG - The opening race was underwhelming, but as promised there was a marked improvement the second time around the Losail International Circuit for Brad Binder and Red Bull KTM this past weekend.
In the first race in Qatar, Binder and Co finished at the back of the midfield, lacking the pace to keep up with the front-runners. After that weekend now almost a fortnight ago, Binder declared that the team had compiled enough information, in his opinion, to fare better in the second race, also in Qatar, and that assertion seemingly rang true as the South African finished in the top 10 this past Sunday.
Starting a lowly 18th on the grid at the GP of Doha, Binder - using untested medium compound tyres in race conditions - jumped off the line to place himself within the leading group, and ultimately secured eight.
His teammate, Miguel Oliveira of Portugal secured the final points position - 15th - after a blinder of a start propelled him into the top 5, only for a technical error to conspire against him and drop him down the grid.
Binder finished close to five seconds off the pace of eventual winner Fabio Quartararo of France - a nine second improvement over his last race - while Oliveira was a further four second behind. The top 15 finished within 8.828 seconds of each other to record the closest MotoGP race in the history of the sport.
As should be expected, Binder was pleased with his performance, but nevertheless remained pragmatic in his personal assessment.
“Much happier," said the 25-year-old after the race, "especially to have finished in the Top 10 (On Sunday) at least.
"Things were really difficult for us here in Qatar. When I arrived at the track (on Sunday), I said to myself ‘whatever the situation, I don’t care, I am just going to give my best every single lap’ and instead of trying to chase something that was a little bit out of reach I just tried to do what I could each lap and in the race it seemed to pay off.
"I’m really happy to have made up 10 spots (on Sunday),” Binder said.
Meanwhile, in Moto3, Brad's younger brother, Darryn, fell desperately short in securing his first GP victory of the season, losing out to teenage sensation Pedro Acosta of Spain by a mere 0.039 seconds to finish second.
In what was an exhilarating race, Acosta started from the pitlane to bob and weave his way through the field and onto the top step of the podium.
The slipstream - much like the previous weekend - played a major role in keeping the pack bunched up throughout the GP. Had Darryn, racing for Petronas Sprinta Racing, had a few more yards on the final straight of the race, he could have overtaken the 16-year-old wunderkind - it was that close … again.
After the two races, Brad finds himself 12th in the world riders' championship with 10 points - 30 points behind first placed Johann Zarco, while Darryn sits comfortably in second in the Moto3 category with 36 points, nine points behind Acosta.
MotoGP now moves on to its European leg, the first of which will be the GP of Portugal next weekend.