Brad Binder celebrates winning the Moto2 race in Spielberg, Austria, August 11 2019. Picture: REUTERS/Lisi Niesner
Brad Binder celebrates winning the Moto2 race in Spielberg, Austria, August 11 2019. Picture: REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

SA’s Brad Binder, headed for the big stage of MotoGP next season, celebrated his birthday with an emotional, historic and bittersweet victory for his Red Bull KTM Ajo team at the Moto2 Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg on Sunday. 

In a race marked by desperate crashes by those pursuing him, Binder, who turned 24 on Sunday, held off Spain’s Alex Marquez to take his first victory of 2019 and his fourth win in three years in the Moto2 class.

In 2020 he will be moving up a step to ride for the Red Bull Tech 3 team in MotoGP, the premier class of motorcycle racing. His win came just a day after KTM announced they would no longer be involved in Moto2 from next season. They have committed to a MotoGP programme until 2026, which is good news for Binder.

KTM run four bikes in MotoGP, with the Tech 3 team the satellite outfit to the Red Bull KTM Factory Team. It was fitting, therefore, that Binder won in Austria, the home grand prix for KTM and his primary sponsor, Red Bull. It was a first home grand prix win for KTM. 

“I’m so, so happy to get a win today,” said Binder. “I couldn’t think of a better day or place to get a win, at KTM’s home track, at Red Bull’s home track. I must say a huge thank you to the team for all the hard work. It was a super tough race, but in the end,  we held on.” 

Binder had qualified second on the grid on a front row that had no European riders. Japan’s Tetsuta Nagashima took pole with Thailand’s Somkiat Chantra was in third spot. Binder got the holeshot over the Japanese rider and built up a small gap in the early laps. Behind him the battle for second became a feisty and mistaken-ridden one.

Nagashima had taken back second place after riding a fastest lap, sliding past Xavi Vierge, but was then taken out from behind by Vierge as he tried to fight back, with both riders crashing. Australia’s Remy Gardner pushed Binder hard, managing to slip by him on a corner before running wide enabling Binder to regain the lead.

Garnder later crashed after running wide and hitting Marquez as he tried to regain track position.

Italians Enea Bastianini and Luca Marini joined the race to bring back Binder, but then Marini went into a corner too hot, slid out and hit his countryman. 

For Marquez, who leads the race for the world championship, this was the invitation he needed to push hard for the win, but Binder, his rear wheel sliding as the tyre’s grip began to fade, rode a perfect final two laps to ensure that the SA anthem would be heard on the podium.