Mixed fortunes for Binder brothers in Qatar opening races
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's Moto3 rider Darryn Binder started on pole, and ended the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix with a podium, but if only it was as straightforward as that.
Older brother, Brad, however couldn’t match the pace of the leading contenders in MotoGP, as he finished way down the field in his first competitive race of the year.
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, on Sunday.
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.
Darryn, racing for new team Petronas Sprinta Racing, held the frontline on several occasions, using his skill to brake 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.
An ill-considered lunge as he was hunting down first place in the final laps of the race, arguably put paid to his challenge, however, Darryn quickly regained his composure to lockout the final podium spot in the last two laps.
He eventually finished behind second-placed Pedro Acosta and winner Jaume Masia, both of Spain, and both of Red Bull KTM Ajo, 0.094 seconds behind the victor - it was that close.
Brad Binder, meanwhile, had the tough task of making an impact from 19th on the grid in the elite MotoGP class. Binder's KTM team had battled with the track throughout the weekend, and that script held true during the race.
"The way Cal rides the bike is very similar to mine. He helped me to understand many things!" - @mvkoficial12 🎙️— MotoGP™🏁 (@MotoGP) March 28, 2021
Today's winner credited @calcrutchlow with a valuable assist! 👊#QatarGP 🇶![CDATA]>🇦 pic.twitter.com/lyR1pXelTf
Despite a relatively good start, Binder managed to only finish 14th, losing out by one position to teammate Miguel Oliveira of Portugal, and 14 seconds behind winner Maverick Vinales of Spain.
Defending champion, Spaniard Joan Mir, let slip a podium on the final straight just before the line, finishing fourth.
The next race is next weekend, also at Losail.