Brad Binder and KTM looking to exploit home advantage in rainy Austria

Trailblazer: Brad Binder in action in Brno last week. AFP/File/JOE KLAMAR

South African Brad Binder will try to serve up another dose of last weekend’s wizardry at his KTM team’s home Austrian MotoGP on Sunday, although torrential rain is forecast to drench the picturesque circuit in the shadow of the Alps.

Binder smashed a series of firsts when winning the Czech MotoGP for his maiden success at only the third attempt in his rookie season in the elite division.

He was also the first South African to win at this level and KTM’s breakthrough MotoGP success too – the perfect way to celebrate his 25th birthday on Tuesday.

“It would be fantastic to have another good weekend for this home race,” said Binder on Thursday before adding he was looking forward to testing himself in the wet conditions expected.

“I did a couple of laps around Jerez at the end of last year but at that stage I was still not sure how things go on a MotoGP bike. It will be super cool to try out the rain conditions again,” he added.

“I’m looking forward to it strangely enough.”

KTM’s motorsport director Pit Bierer spoke feelingly about their “long fight” from the time they first decided to aim for MotoGP, starting with “a white sheet of paper”, to Sunday’s “outstanding” win, and all the hard punches in between.

Binder’s unscripted victory in Brno put the brakes on Fabio Quartararo, the rising French rider who leads the championship after back-to-back wins in the first two races at Jerez on his Yamaha.

World champion Marc Marquez is absent in Spielberg for the third consecutive race as the Spaniard recovers from two bouts of surgery on a broken arm sustained in his season-opening race crash.

The Honda star’s misfortune has left him trailing Quartararo by already 59 points ahead of Sunday’s fourth leg of the coronavirus-curtailed season.

Marquez is aiming to return for the following weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix, also at the Austrian circuit.

Yamaha’s satellite SRT team star Quartararo had to settle for seventh behind Binder in Brno, but approaches Austria in high spirits.

“It wasn’t the best weekend at Brno, but we will go to Austria with nine more points in the championship,” he said.

“That was important to do. The Austrian track is one that I really like and I’m really looking forward to these next two races there.”

Quartararo leads the early standings by 17 points from Spaniard Maverick Vinales, only 14th last Sunday on the factory Yamaha, with his SRT teammate Franco Morbidelli up to third (31 points) after finishing best of the rest behind Binder who is in fifth.

The sport’s first wet race since Valencia in 2018 is forecast this weekend.

“Honestly, I arrived here on Monday and when we looked at the forecast and it says it’s raining every day,” said Quartararo, who has never raced in the wet in MotoGP.

“But really it’s for about an hour, today it was predicted much earlier. It looks like it’ll rain on Friday and Saturday, sun on Sunday, we will do our best in every condition.

“But it’s true that it’s not easy to front a GP in these conditions.”

Spielberg, however, has been a happy hunting ground for Ducati who have won all four races at the circuit since the grand prix returned in 2016.

Last season Andrea Dovizioso won a thriling Austrian GP with a last-corner overtake on Marquez.


Black Friday




today in print