Brad Binder was the top finisher for Red Bull KTM at a cool and difficult Catalan Grand Prix where effective grip was at a premium. The South African classified 11th as MotoGP entered the second half of the 2020 campaign.
The coolest conditions yet for 2020 MotoGP graced the eighth round of the season in Catalunya and made the slick asphalt of the circuit a short distance north of Barcelona a complicated challenge. Teams and riders had to make snap judgements on tires in order to find rubber that would last the 24-lap race distance but also offer performance in the initial stages of the Grand Prix.
Three KTM RC16s filled spots on the top twelve of the grid with Pol Espargaro leading the third row in 7th place. Once the race started the Spaniard was fighting for positions just inside the top ten with Danilo Petrucci when he lost front-end traction into Turn 1 on lap 13. He crashed out of 7th. The same fate befell Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Miguel Oliveira. The Portuguese was 9th until he hit the ground six laps later at Turn 2.
Brad Binder had recovered well from a slow start to push-up from outside the top fifteen and reach as high as 9th. The rookie then ran out of rear grip in the last three laps and reached the finish line in 11th. Iker Lecuona grabbed 2 points for 14th place.
KTM’s highest ranked rider in the FIM World Championship standings is Oliveira who is 9th and only 18 points from the top five.
Brad Binder: “Today was a bit different to what I had in mind. Coming into the race my pace seemed really good and I had a good feeling with the bike. In the race it just didn’t quite go to plan. I tried my best at the start but when we hit lap sixteen things became a bit more difficult with the rear tire. It was tough, for sure. Not a great result in the end but we’ll learn from this and use it for the future. We’ll stay focused, look ahead to the next race and try to make things right there.”
Iker Lecuona: “In the end, I’m quite happy that I finished the race, which was my target, as it was a difficult weekend for me. Finally, I could enjoy the race a bit and managed to regain a better feeling. I was fighting with a small group and finished in the points. Thanks to the team for all the support this weekend. I’m sure we will be better in Le Mans.”
Miguel Oliveira: “It’s sad to end the race like this. We had very challenging conditions and expected to be competitive and for that we needed to use the medium front tire. The temperature was quite low today, so it took me just one lap with no slipstream to cool down the tire and when I went to the left side, there was no way I could save the crash. It’s a shame. This is racing. I hope we can get back to the front in Le Mans, the home race for the team. I want to do well there, also for the championship.”
Pol Espargaro: “For sure I’m disappointed. I paid for some frustration today because with the medium front tire I could not push so hard in the left corners. I was fighting a lot with Petrucci even though I felt faster than him. I entered the corner a bit too fast and lost the front. My fault entirely. I was trying too hard. Perhaps I should have relaxed a little. I’m keen to get to Le Mans and remove the bad taste in the mouth from here. It was my home Grand Prix and this wasn’t what I expected.”
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Race Manager: “We saw already earlier in the weekend that tire choice would be super-difficult for us. We would always find a solution in the afternoon when the temperatures were higher but race day was pretty cold on track and we knew it would be tough. Pol was doing well until he crashed but, overall, we cannot be happy with our overall results: it is the first time this season that we don’t have a rider in the top ten and we have to analyze why we could not find the performance we wanted. Everybody pushed and gave what they could, but we’ll work now to know more for Le Mans.”
Moto2 & Moto3
Darryn Binder produced a strong and mature last lap of an intense Moto3 Grand Prix to claim his very first victory and third career podium appearance. The South African earned the win with his KTM RC4 by a tenth of a second. Raul Fernandez could only take his Red Bull KTM Ajo machine to 13th after starting from the middle of the front row of the grid and having fought for podium places in the first half of the race. Albert Arenas lost control of the FIM World Championship standings for the first time this season after the Spaniard was hit out of the leading group by John McPhee before half-race distance.
In Moto2 Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Tetsuta Nagashima rode to 12th position while Jorge Martin was forced to withdraw with a technical problem.
MotoGP will now break for one week. The Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France will bring the championship together again at Le Mans on 10-11 October.
Results MotoGP Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya 2020
1. Fabio Quartararo (FRA), Yamaha 40:33.176
2. Joan Mir (ESP), Suzuki +0.928
3. Alex Rins (ESP) Suzuki +1.898
4. Franco Morbidelli (ITA) Yamaha +2.846
5. Jack Miller (AUS) Ducati +3.391
11. Brad Binder (RSA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +14.927
14. Iker Lecuona (ESP), Red Bull KTM Tech3 +27.066
DNF. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Tech3
DNF. Pol Espargaro (ESP), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Results Moto2 Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya 2020
1. Luca Marini (ITA) 38:11.103
2. Sam Lowes (GBR) +0.981
3. Fabio Di Giannantonio (ITA) +4.399
12th. Tetsuta Nagashima (JPN) Red Bull KTM Ajo +18.910
DNF. Jorge Martin (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo
Results Moto3 Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya 2020
1. Darryn Binder (RSA) KTM 38:32.507
2. Tony Arbolino (ITA) Honda +0.103
3. Dennis Foggia (ITA) Honda +0.157
13. Raul Fernandez (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +3.572