Red Bull KTM Factory Racing sampled the sweet taste of success at their home Grand Prix as Brad Binder defied a crazy dry/wet Bitci Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich to win for the second time in his career in the premier class. The South African ensured that KTM trod the top step of the podium for the second time in 2021 and for the second year in a row at the Red Bull Ring.
The second taste of the Red Bull Ring for MotoGP took place in front of the biggest fan attendance since the start of the pandemic as the sport welcomed back a full allocation of spectators for the eleventh round of the 2021 campaign. Sunshine and decent temperatures were also part of the ingredients for an eagerly anticipated Austrian Grand Prix but the race itself took a late dramatic turn with a heavy shower that coated the track for the last four laps of the 28.
2020 winner at the Spielberg venue, Miguel Oliveira, was the highest KTM RC16 runner on the start grid and occupied the final slot on the third row, just one space ahead of teammate Brad Binder. It was the South African who made the brighter start as Tech3 KTM Factory Racing pair Iker Lecuona and Danilo Petrucci tried to thread their way through the pack from the second half of the group.
Binder had moved up to 6th when the rain started to appear and the leaders grouped together as the conditions became more perilous. The five riders ahead of him elected to pull into the pits to change to wet weather settings but Binder gambled and gingerly guided his KTM RC16 to 1st place as the water plummeted. The 26-year-old almost fell, and actually ran off the track on the final lap with the rain at its heaviest. He had enough of a margin to make it home and spark wild celebrations in the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing pitbox.
Lecuona also stayed on track and at one stage in the final three laps held a podium slot. The Spaniard was eventually passed by the riders charging on wet tires but his 6th place represents a career-best. Petrucci passed the flag down in 12th.
Oliveira was counted out of the running with a crash at Turn 1 with six laps remaining and just as a shower started to fall. The 26-year-old is still dealing with the discomfort of the micro fracture in his right wrist and will now use the gap between races to rehabilitate further.
The Monster Energy British Grand Prix will take MotoGP to Silverstone for the first time in two years and for round twelve in two weeks time.
Brad Binder: “That was really scary! When I saw the rain coming I was trying to work out how many seconds I could lose per lap and when the others went in I decided to take the gamble. I could push hard on the first lap but then the rear tire started to slide as the temperature cooled. Then I lost the carbon brakes! Wow, I think there was someone up there holding me up today because there were a couple of moments when I thought it was over. Here in front of the fans and the home race for KTM and Red Bull I felt like I had to take the gamble. To win today is insane.”
Miguel Oliveira: “Disappointed with the outcome, for sure, but physically I’m OK. It hasn’t been an easy two weeks here or my most comfortable time on the bike. It was a tough day for me but at the same time a super one for the team and with Brad’s win so congrats to him for his second MotoGP victory.”
Iker Lecuona: “Obviously, I’m really happy as this was my best MotoGP result so far. It was a crazy race. I felt the grip was dropping a lot, which helped me to decide that I stay on the track when it started to rain. I thought ‘I have nothing to lose’. I stayed on the track and had a good fight with some riders. I lost the podium in the last sector, but it wasn’t possible with the slicks. I’m very happy and want to thank my team, that always worked well again during this weekend. Also a huge thank you to all the people, who believe in me, especially to my family.”
Danilo Petrucci: “It was a very difficult race. Especially at the beginning. I had no chance to stop the bike, I was really slow and didn’t have this pace all the weekend. It was very tough for me. I’m not sure what the reason for this has been, but it was very tricky for me to be fast. Then the rain came and I just wanted to stay on the bike and try to see the flag. At least, we scored some points.”
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Race Manager: “There is a lot to say but at the same time not too much! To take this victory at home is quite amazing. Brad was in the top six when the conditions changed the race very fast. Miguel was a victim of the rain and we were pretty disappointed about that but Brad pushed on. In one way it was a gamble and in another it was a strong calculation by him. We didn’t send any message on the dash that he should come in; we let him decide as he was the only one who knew the conditions. He did great. To ride the last two laps with slick tires was fantastic. He almost crashed on every corner but managed to bring it home. Iker also performed very well. I want to thank all the KTM people here and at the factory. I always say it; but we all work for results like these and it was great to see so many fans here at Spielberg. The results across the categories shows how high the determination of this company actually is.”
Results MotoGP Michelin Grand Prix of Styria 2021
1. Brad Binder (RSA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 40:46.928
2. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati +9.991
3. Jorge Martin (ESP), Ducati +11.570
4. Joan Mir (ESP), Suzuki +12.623
5. Luca Marini (ITA) Ducati +14.831
6. Iker Lecuona (ESP), Tech3 KTM Factory Racing +14.952
12. Danilo Petrucci (ITA), Tech3 KTM Factory Racing +25.193
DNF. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing