Winner Red Bull KTM Ajo's rider Brad Binder celebrates with champagne on the podium after the Moto2 Valencia Grand Prix at the Ricardo Tormo racetrack in Cheste near Valencia, November 17 2019. Picture: PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP
Winner Red Bull KTM Ajo's rider Brad Binder celebrates with champagne on the podium after the Moto2 Valencia Grand Prix at the Ricardo Tormo racetrack in Cheste near Valencia, November 17 2019. Picture: PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

After he had won his third consecutive grand prix in Valencia on Sunday, ending his Moto2 career on a high he would have hoped for but not have expected, Brad Binder said he does not want to be told how close he had come to becoming a world champion for the second time.

Three points — that was the gap between the South African and Spaniard Alex Marquez, who claimed the title two weeks ago in Malaysia.

Binder does not like to do “ifs”, but if his Red Bull KTM Ajo bike had the pace at the beginning of the season that it did in the second half, Binder could have been a two-time world champion.

“I prefer that I don’t know,” said Binder. “The way our year started to where we are now, well, the momentum has been incredible.”

Binder could not buy a result in the first half of the year, his KTM struggling with rear-end grip and tyre-wear issues. His first seven GPs had a fourth and fifth place to show as Binder wrung every little bit out of the bike that he could. But things changed in Assen for the Netherlands Grand Prix.

A second place was followed by another in Germany. His first win came in Austria, the home of KTM and Red Bull, his sponsor. He won in Aragon, then on the “flyaways” period of the season, when the circus moved to Australasia, he was second in Thailand and won in Australia and Malaysia.

The wind was quite tricky out there and Tom was so good on the brakes I struggled to get past
Brad Binder,  SA Moto2 rider

His final win of the season, in Spain, where he bases himself for the season, was a good sign for the people at KTM who have promoted him to race in MotoGP for the Red Bull KTM Racing team in 2020.

But with the buzz of his fourth win of 2019 and his seventh in three years in Moto2, the 2016 Moto3 world champion revelled in the fight for victory in Spain on Sunday, when he had to be patient behind Tomas Luth of Switzerland.

“Tom made it hard for me,” said the 24-year-old Binder, who grabbed the lead with two laps to spare.

“His rhythm was insane. The wind was tricky out there and Tom was so good on the brakes I struggled to get past. I tried two or three times and eventually once I got the move to stick I just tried to have a clean lap, just to get some space just so I could get over the line.

“But what a way to finish my Moto2 career. I need to say a huge thank you to everyone in my team. Ajo Motorsports have looked after me for five years and I can’t wait for next year.”

Next year (2020) starts on Tuesday and Wednesday, when Binder has two days’ testing on the MotoGP bike. This will be followed by two more days of testing in Jerez next week.

Binder said last week that riding the Moto grand prix bike is the most fun he has had all year. His move up to the elite class was announced earlier in 2019, but that was with the Red Bull KTM Tech 3 team, the satellite outfit to the factory Red Bull KTM outfit. It changed before the Australian Grand Prix, with the KTM motorsport hierarchy choosing to trust the young South African.

They have committed to MotoGP for the next five years and their investment is said to be substantial. Binder is the man they have trusted to lead their charge for the next season and, very likely, beyond.