SOUTH Africa’s Brad Binder stunned his home country as well as the international motorsport community when he claimed his maiden MotoGP victory at the Czech Republic Grand Prix in Brno — in only his third race in the premier class.
In doing so, Binder became the first South African to win MotoGP’s top category, as well as the first by a rookie to win since 2013, when Marc Marquez that also took that honour.
“Honestly, right now I’m lost for words,” an emotional Binder said after the race.
“Today was the most incredible day in my life so far,” he said.
“It’s that day I’ve dreamed of since I was a child and gosh, for it to come true in my third grand prix is scary.
“I can’t believe it.
“It’s been from the day of starting in the Red Bull Rookies Cup, it’s just been a consistent grind trying to get here.
“And you know, I came through all of the classes with Red Bull KTM.
“We’re on top and we finally won in MotoGP.”
“They put an absolutely insane motorbike underneath me this weekend.
“Thank you to everyone at home for always supporting me. I hope that this is the start of many more.”
With nine laps remaining, the KTM rookie Binder chased down early leader Franco Morbidelli of Petronas Yamaha before holding his nerve to seal victory in only his third start in the premier class.
By the end of the race, Binder, who had qualified in seventh position, had stretched his lead to five seconds over Morbidelli.
Johann Zarco, who claimed a first MotoGP pole position for Avintia Ducati on Saturday, completed the unexpected podium.
Championship leader Fabio Quartararo finished 7th after struggling for grip.
Racing veteran Valentino Rossi came 5th on his Yamaha, while teammate Maverick Vinales’s 14th-placed finish meant no Spaniard made it to the MotoGP podium for the first time since the British Grand Prix in 2015.
In a frustrating day for Ducati’s factory team, Andrea Dovizioso finished 16 seconds off the winning pace in 11th, one place ahead of teammate Danilo Petrucci.
In the absence of world champion Marc Marquez, who is recovering from a broken arm, teammate and younger brother Alex took the last point for Repsol Honda with a 15th-placed finish.
The victory moves Binder up to fifth place in the MotoGP championship, where he now has 28 points. Fabio Quartararo still leads the standings with 59 points.
The KTM RC16 looked to be one of the most settled bikes during a Czech GP tough on tyres, with both Binder and teammate Pol Espargaro in the podium hunt before the latter’s crash.
But Binder said he was in a “completely different boat” after Friday’s practice, though his team was able to turn around the situation to allow him utilise his “insane” bike in the race.
“On Friday I could barely touch a throttle and I felt like I was going to get flicked up in the air,” Binder said.
“So, Friday night the guys did their home work and before I left the track I remember speaking to my crew chief and the boss Mike Leitner who said ‘don’t stress out, tomorrow they will sort it out’.
“And they did. Yeah, from FP3 already my bike was so much more stable and I just felt really, really good.
“This new bike is insane. I’ve been telling the guys since the first time I rode it.”
Binder, 24, started his Grand Prix career in the 125cc class riding an Aprilia in the 2011 season and won the Moto3 World Championship in 2016.
In 2019 he moved up to the Moto2 category with KTM’s Tech3 satellite team and was signed to the Red Bull KTM MotoGP factory team this year.
In Austria, Binder finished 4th in his first visit to the Red Bull Ring on a MotoGP machine after starting the Austrian MotoGP from 17th position.
It was another great ride by the KTM, who, towards the end, looked as if he might be in line for a podium spot — but he sensibly settled for a solid 4th.
Up front, Andrea Dovizioso kept Ducati’s 100 per cent Red Bull Ring record on Sunday in a wild race that had second place in doubt until the last lap.
Australia’s Jack Miller led from lap 6 on his Pramac Racing Ducati with Dovisioso at the head of the chase pack and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in very close attendance.
Then Dovisioso got by and Mir snatched second spot on the last lap.
Miller completed the podium with Brad Binder 4th for Red Bull KTM.
Fifth went to Valentino Rossi with Takaaki Nakagami picking up P6 as the leading Honda rider.
Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) crossed the line 7th, just 0.036 ahead of Fabio Quartararo with Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech3) and Maverick Vinales (Monster Yamaha) making up the top 10.
Next rounds is in Austria on August 23.
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