JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's Darryn Binder started on pole, and ended the season-opening Qatar GP with a podium ... but if only it was as straightforward as that.
In the first race of the 2021 season at the Losail International Circuit, the Moto3 category dished up a brilliantly entertaining spectacle as the lead changed hands with almost every lap.
The 1km long straight after the last turn 16 to the finish line, proved to be the real MVP due to a cross-wind sweeping over the track. It resulted in the riders jockeying for position by taking full advantage of the slipstream.
It kept all-and-sundry honest, and bunched-up with the possibility that any rider within the top 10 at the starting line, could find themselves in the top 3, chasing a podium finish by the second corner.
Binder, racing for new team Petronas Sprinta Racing, held the frontline on several occasions, using his skill to break as late as possible into turn 1 to steal the lead.
He battled hard throughout, even dropping to 10th place during one lap, only for his already powerful bike to catch the slipstream of the front-runners and be rocket-propelled back into the heart of the battle.
A ill-considered lunge as he was hunting down first place in the final laps of the race, arguably put paid to his challenge, however, but Darryn quickly regained his composure to lockout the final podium spot in the last two laps, eventually finishing behind second-placed Pedro Acosta and eventual winner Jaume Masia, both of Spain, and both of Red Bull KTM Ajo.
More to follow ...