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Brad Binder. Picture: RED BULL CONTENT POOL
Brad Binder. Picture: RED BULL CONTENT POOL

The consistency of Brad Binder will serve his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team well this season as they seek to win the MotoGP team competition and push hard for the rider’s world championship, according to a respected motorcycle racing figure.

Chicho Lorenzo, a racing coach who was instrumental in the career of his son Jorge, the three-time MotoGP world champion (2011, 2012 and 2015), told the “Motogepeando” podcast that while KTM’s RC16 bike had made some improvements, the struggles of the other KTMs this season showed the Austrian constructor still had some work to do.

“KTM is well positioned because of the regularity, not the genius, of Brad Binder. He raised his head because of [Miguel] Oliveira’s victory [in Indonesia],” said Lorenzo, who has never been one to temper his views on teams, riders and the sport.

“But the riders of the satellite team ... are lost, trying to understand these bikes ... So who knows what’s going on there, because it seems like with KTM it never ends. When it takes a few steps forward, then it takes a few steps back again.”

That may be overly critical of KTM after just four races of what has been one of the most competitive openings to a season in years, with three different winners in the first four GPs.

Going into this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix in Portimao, which marks the start of a run of 12 GPs in Europe, they are second in the team standings on 70 points, 32 behind Suzuki and one ahead of Aprilia.

Binder has slipped from second to sixth in the world championship standings, but, having scored points in all four GPs, including a podium in Qatar, is just 19 points behind Italian Enea Bastianini.

Oliveira won his home Grand Prix in the disrupted 2020 season and is regarded as a favourite for the title, but Binder will be looking to improve on his fifth place in Portimao in 2021. Consistency is what wins the rider and team championships, though, and Binder could have had four consecutive top 10 places so far this season had he not had a slight coming together with Frenchman Johann Zarco in Austin with two laps to go, dropping to 12th from ninth. 

“The race was going well from the beginning and we made the right choice with the tyres because the soft option lasted until the end. I’m not happy at all to finish 12th because I got up into the battle for ninth and ended up tagging the back of a rider and falling back again. There were two laps to go and I couldn’t get back. It’s been a tough weekend but we managed to salvage some points. Let’s see what we can do at the next one,” said Binder.

“I tried to overtake [Zarco]  from the inside, but he closed the line. I touched his rear wheel and went wide. Whoever was behind overtook me. By then there were two laps to go, and I didn’t have time to recover. Anyway, I gave everything I had from start to finish. I feel there was not much more I could have done, I think I had a good race. The only mistake I made was that, braking too late. We got some points in a very complicated weekend for us.”

Darryn Binder, who has impressed in his debut MotoGP season thus far and is second in the Rookie of the Year race, was looking forward to Europe after a tough American tour.

“I am really looking forward to get to Portimao. After being in America, which was a very difficult track, I feel like I’m a little more ready for Portugal now. It’s going to be a challenging track as well with all the elevation changes, ups and downs, but I’m really excited to start racing back in Europe and trying to make a step forward,” said Binder junior.

“I feel like, more or less, I am present in every situation. I almost made progress in every situation. But when I get to the point where I understand something, the weekend is over. The tracks in Europe will be more normal, at least that’s what I hope. Portimao will undoubtedly continue to be difficult, but then it’s Jerez. That’s where I was on the MotoGP bike for the first time, so I hope I can use what I learnt there to take another step.”

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