Despite some set-backs, Brad Binder maintained his resolve and cool throughout the remainder of the Italian GP to finish fifth, close to five seconds behind Quatararo.
The tragic passing of Moto3 rider Jason Dupasquier this past weekend at the Italian Grand Prix reminded all and sundry of the dangers of the sport and the fleeting nature of life.
It was a sullen occasion on Sunday, with the paddock standing together before the event to celebrate the life of the Swiss rider and respect his achievements, with MotoGP winner Fabio Quatararo dedicating his victory in the elite field to the 19-year-old. It was a dark weekend for all the teams, stakeholders, and supporters, and the sombre atmosphere makes any acknowledgement of improvement a difficult undertaking, especially for a report that primarily concentrates on the raceday achievements of KTM, Brad and Darryn Binder.
Red Bull KTM Brad and teammate Miguel Oliveira had arguably their best weekend, racing-wise, of the 2021 season. At the beginning of May, the factory team completed over 300 laps at testing in Jerez to work out any niggles on their package, and make their motorbike more competitive. Those upgrades didn't pay any dividends at a wet French GP, but this past weekend, with the sun beating down on a dry track at a sombre Mugello, the true pace of the KTM was revealed.
Brad clocked in 362.4km/h at the circuit's speedtrap on Saturday to equal the world record held by Johann Zarco, and on Sunday qualified sixth, one spot ahead of Oliveira. An early incident in the race with Marc Marquez, deployed the 25-year-old's airbags in his riding suit, and saw the KTM rider lose a couple of positions. Despite these set-backs, the South African maintained his resolve and cool throughout the remainder of the GP to finish fifth, close to five seconds behind Quatararo.
“I’m happy with fifth, even if I did want more but I had a crazy race," said Brad after the race.
"I almost tucked the front on the sighting lap, so I was trying to work out the conditions and why I felt different. I didn’t have a perfect start and then I was cautious on the first three laps. Marc rode into me and my airbag fired, which meant I couldn’t move for almost a lap.
"After that I could finally get into a rhythm and chase the group in front of me although I didn’t quite have the pace to get through it. Anyway, I’m pleased with another top five and we’ll try to keep this momentum for the next races," he said.
The fifth-placed finish was Brad's second of the season, after he completed the Portuguese GP in the same position. Oliveira, meanwhile, scored KTM's first podium of the race calendar when he placed second, exclaiming the hard work the team has put in in recent weeks with a fine performance.
Said Oliveira: “It was a good race and a strong weekend."
"We saw we had one of the best race paces out there," he continued. "I was not strong enough to push at the beginning with the tyres but then I got in my rhythm, I managed to get to second and then could keep Joan Mir behind me, which was not easy.
"I would have liked to have made this podium in different circumstances. We can be happy but not completely, and our thoughts are with Jason’s family right now.”
Darryn, meanwhile, put in an excellent, workman-like shift in an emotional Moto3 category. After three terrible races, the Petronas Sprinta Racing rider showed a lot of heart when he fought his way from 16th on the grid to finish fifth, +0.499 seconds behind eventual winner Dennis Foggia.
Both Binder Brothers, especially Brad, then achieved close to what one would expect is their utmost best under heavy-hearted conditions, and can now hope to accomplish even greater moments at the Catalan GP this weekend and beyond.
*Quotes courtesy of Flume Digital Marketing and PR