’I was glad to finish but not the position we wanted, says Brad Binder after difficult French GP
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Before the start of this year's MotoGP season, there was a belief that Brad Binder and Co would be up there, fighting it out amongst the front-runners for podium places.
That promise has so far not materialised after four races in this calendar. Binder and Red Bull KTM have been in the points, but all of them have been outside of the top three places. In the truncated 2020 season, Binder managed to finish three of the 14 races in the top five, including that brilliant win at the Czech Republic GP - and this season is taking on a similar pattern. So far he has one top five finish to his name, at the Portuguese GP, and in the other three races finished 14th in Qatar, eight at the second race of the season, also in Qatar, and retired from the Spanish GP.
At Sunday's French GP at Le Mans, he weathered a wet track to recover from last and finished 13th in a chaotic race. It seems then that KTM are just not quite there in their development of the RC16 and their ambition at this current time.
Nevertheless, Binder is still scoring points, even though it might not be from the positions he believes the team can achieve, and after another tough race this past weekend at the Bugatti Circuit, he admitted as much. It was a good experience for the 25-year-old, however, as he completed his first rain-interrupted event.
“A crazy race (on Sunday)," Binder explained.
"I had some problems at the start and ended up last into Turn 1. I managed to get past a few guys but then a few laps into the race we saw really dark clouds and some rain spots. It then really started pouring as we went through Turn 3. It was hard to get back to the pitlane because there was no grip at all.
"It was pretty dangerous.
"Starting again on wet tires," he continued, "the grip was the worst we’ve had in the wet all weekend. It was my first flag-to-flag. A difficult race, a difficult weekend. I was glad to finish but not the position we wanted.”
Mugello is up next in a fortnight's time, and it was one of the circuits that did not see MotoGP action last year due to Covid-19, and its terrible impact on Italy at the time. In 2019, however, KTM finished ninth and 17th through the efforts of Spaniard Pol Espargaro and Johann Zarco of France, respectively. If the form book for the team and its riders - and that includes Miguel Oliveira, who retired this past weekend - holds true, they will in all probability compete in that space again in Italy.
There is always a possibility that KTM, Binder and Oliveira have a bigger impact then. We are yet to see the fruits of their labours after a relentless testing schedule at Catalunya earlier this month, and the wet and wild conditions at Le Mans certainly did not allow them to implement those developments.
Meanwhile, younger brother Darryn's season has gone a bit pear-shaped of late. The Petronas Sprinta Racing rider slipped out of the points at the treacherous Turn 3 on Sunday whilst in sixth-place on an extremely wet track, and finished 22nd.
It was the second time in as many races that the 23-year-old failed to score any points, and it was especially disappointing after he claimed two podiums in the first two races. Murgello will, therefore, be an opportunity for Darryn to find a bit of confidence again, and show the pace he promised in Qatar.
* Quotes courtesy of Flume Digital Marketing and PR