Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder again produced the goods on race day with 5th position after 25 arduous laps of action for the third round of the season in Portugal, posting KTM’s highest classification yet in 2021 MotoGP
- Binder makes up ten positions to rise from 15th on the grid to take 5th
- 16th for Miguel Oliveira who remounts after early race fall at Turn 14
- Points for Tech3 KTM Factory Racing duo Danilo Petrucci (13th) and Iker Lecuona (15th)
The first daylight race of 2021 and the opening fixture in Europe took place in sunny and warm conditions in southern Portugal. The 4.6km layout of climbs, drops and diverse corners at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve was a technical prospect for the fastest riders and teams in MotoGP. The track itself is still a relatively new challenge for the Grand Prix runners with the Grande Premio 888 de Portugal representing only the second visit to the venue.
Brad Binder had struggled to make a quick lap in qualification but was positive for Sunday due to his KTM RC16 set-up and pace in Free Practice 4. The South African made an excellent start to leap from 15th on the grid to 8th on the first lap and then started to hound the front-runners. Binder, who crashed out at Portimao in 2020, would take profit of two spills ahead of him to toast a top five classification and was closing on the battle for the podium in the final two circulations. Teammate Miguel Oliveira, the 2020 winner of the GP, began the race from 10th position on the grid and pushed his KTM RC16 to the fringe of the leading group. He then misjudged the entry to Turn 14 and fell. The Portuguese was still able to pick up his bike and made it to the flag in 16th, just missing the final GP point.
Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Danilo Petrucci bagged his first top fifteen result with a steady ride to 13th while Iker Lecuona was 15th and ahead of Oliveira. MotoGP will move only a short distance east for the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, taking place at the Circuit de Jerez – Angel Nieto on May 1-2.
Brad Binder: “Happy to get our first top five of the season. I really wanted to be on the podium today and thought we had the potential to be there with about five laps to go. I pushed as hard as I could but I couldn’t put the key clean laps together at the end as much as I wanted. Overall, I gave my absolute best today and didn’t leave anything on the table. A massive thanks to the team because we did a great job getting the bike ready for the race and we’ll go again in Jerez.”
Danilo Petrucci: “I was fighting and made some passes but at the end, I couldn’t pass Luca Marini. We are still not in our best form, we need to improve our setup. I am gaining a lot of experience though. At least, we got some points and this is important for the mood. I would like to thank all my team because they are doing a great job. For me it’s still a new experience but I know we have the potential to be closer to the front. We have some ideas for Jerez and I’m looking forward to race there.”
Iker Lecuona: “There’s not too much to say about this race. I struggled all the weekend but tried my best. Finally, we got one point, but still this doesn’t really help. I’m trying to reset my mind now, go home, relax and try to change my approach for the next round in Jerez de la Frontera.”
Miguel Oliveira: “Finally it was a very disappointing day for us. My start was not so good and I struggled in the beginning to stop the bike. I could feel the front tire moving a lot on the braking points and it made it even harder for me to overtake. Eventually I lost the front into Turn 14 but I picked-up to try and finish the race out of respect for the team and everyone watching and the Portuguese fans. It was not the show I wanted to put on. We have to put this behind us and focus on the future.”
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Race Manager: “After last year’s win here we expected to have a good race and Brad produced a great race. He managed the tires well and ended-up close to the podium positions. Miguel didn’t have the best start and was caught in traffic. In those first laps you can win and lose positions because everybody is fighting very hard and it is easy to go wide or make a mistake. When he was just starting to push then he lost the front. It was a big shame. With Tech3 we’re happy that both riders could score points because this is a difficult track and the competition is high. After Qatar we can see that we’ve made a step and we will try to make better set-up for our bikes in Jerez.”
Results MotoGP Grande Premio 888 de Portugal 2021
1. Fabio Quartararo (FRA), Yamaha 41:46. 412
2. Francesco Bagania (ITA), Ducati +4.809
3. Joan Mir (ESP) Suzuki +4.948
4. Franco Morbidelli (ITA) Yamaha +5.127
5. Brad Binder (RSA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +6.668
13. Danilo Petrucci (ITA), Tech3 KTM Factory Racing +29.836
15. Iker Lecuona (ESP), Tech3 KTM Factory Racing +50.642
16. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +1 lap