Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto2 rider Brad Binder of South Africa (right) speeds to victory ahead of teammate Jorge Martin of Spain in the Moto2 Australian Grand Prix motorcycle race, October 27 2019. Picture: WILLIAM WEST / AFP
Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto2 rider Brad Binder of South Africa (right) speeds to victory ahead of teammate Jorge Martin of Spain in the Moto2 Australian Grand Prix motorcycle race, October 27 2019. Picture: WILLIAM WEST / AFP

South African Brad Binder celebrated his 50th Moto2 Grand Prix with an emphatic victory in the Australian Grand Prix at the Phillip Island circuit on Sunday.

Binder, who will move up to the elite MotoGP class in 2020, dominated the third-last race of the year, taking the lead from the first corner after qualifying second on the grid. His Red Bull KTM Ajo teammate, Jorge Martin of Spain, was second, almost two seconds behind with Swiss Thomas Luthi third.

It was Binder’s third win of the season and his sixth Moto2 win in total. It rounded off a good weekend for the Binder family, with brother Darryn taking sixth place in the Moto3 race, finishing less than a second behind the winner.

After a hard time to the start of the season with a KTM that struggled for rear-end grip, Binder and the Ajo team have found a combination that has seen him finish on the podium in the past 10 races, with three of those visits for victories.

He sits in third place on the world championship points table, 33 points behind Alex Marquez, brother of Marc, who won his sixth MotoGP title at the Thailand GP at the beginning of October. Luthi is five points ahead of Binder.

The 24-year-old had missed out on pole on Saturday after rain curtailed the qualifying session but, as he has shown in the latter half of the season, he is near uncatchable once he gets near the front row.

“[It] was a pretty good Saturday. We experienced some extremely difficult conditions on track, as the gusts of wind were very strong. It was essential to keep calm and ride smoothly,” said Binder.

In the race he and Martin had built a 0.69sec gap to the rest of the chasing pack after the first lap. They extended the lead gradually, with Binder eventually powering away from his young Spanish teammate in the final laps.

Marquez, who took eighth, almost got caught up in the incident that saw Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi crash out in turn four caused by a move by Iker Lecuona that was described as “audacious”.

“Jorge kept me honest the whole race,” said Binder. “After every lap I thought I had done just about a perfect lap and the gap would be 0.3 sec, 0.2 sec, 0.4 sec. I could never really break away from him.

“I felt really comfortable, but in the last few laps I struggled a bit and when I saw that it was starting to rain I really started to worry. I came out of turn two and spun on the curbs. It was a little wetter than I thought, so I was a lot more careful and made sure I finished first. It is a great day for Ajo Motorsports.”

Binder will not be drawn on the possibility of overtaking Marquez for the world title over the last two races of the season, in Malaysia on Sunday and Valencia on November 17.

With 25 points for a win in each GP, Binder would ideally need to win both and hope Marquez does not score more than 18 points. It is a long shot, but with the KTM and Binder finishing strongly, hope springs eternal for the South African.