Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder regained a fantastic ten positions to classify 8th at the Tissot Grand Prix of Doha and the second round of the 2021 MotoGP series. The performance and result rounded-off a challenging term for KTM at the Losail international Circuit in positive fashion.
The wind continued to blow and the dust plumed across the flat and floodit Losail International Circuit as the MotoGP teams returned to speed for the second dose of action in Qatar. Both Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and Tech3 KTM Factory Racing had another chance to improve the set-up of the RC16 for what was the fifth GP – and in only four years - for the factory at the venue.
For the second time in a week a 22-lap distance lay ahead for the riders. Oliveira made a fantastic launch from 12th on the grid and was haunting the top five and then top ten until he encountered a technical problem with his dash display. Meanwhile Binder – who had also sprung away from a lowly 18th to plant himself into the leading group – made ground and two shrewd overtaking moves on the final lap allowed him to capture 8th position; beating the previous best for the factory set in 2019. Petrucci made the finish line in 19th place and 16 seconds from winner Fabio Quartararo. Iker Lecuona crashed out on lap 13.
MotoGP finally escapes the rigors of Losail and Qatar and will fly back to Europe for a well-earned break. The spectacular challenge of the Algarve International Circuit will restart the series for round three in a fortnight for the Grande Premio 888 de Portugal: Miguel Oliveira’s home race and where he convincingly took the RC16 to victory last November.
Brad Binder: “Much happier, especially to have finished in the top ten today at least. Things were really difficult for us here in Qatar. When I arrived at the track this morning I said to myself ‘whatever the situation, I don’t care, I am just going to give my best every single lap’ and instead of trying to chase something that was a little bit out of reach I just tried to do what I could each lap and in the race it seemed to pay off. I’m really happy to have made up ten spots today.”
Miguel Oliveira: “It was a good start to the race but coming into the first lap already my dashboard went blank and the hardest thing for me to manage was the shifting points. We also needed to understand how to get more agility in order to defend our position better but we had a good step forward here in Qatar. We learnt even more about the bike and now we start the European rounds with even more motivation to improve.”
Danilo Petrucci: “It was a very difficult race. I didn’t start badly but I was too slow on the first lap and was not able to stay with the big group in front of me. By the middle of the race it was OK. But I never had a really good feeling to push. I struggled a lot with the front and rear grip. Then, we lost a lot on the main straight, so I couldn’t defend myself. I thought to be faster but in the middle of the race I couldn’t pass the rider in front of me. Still, we gained some experience and collected some data, so we are looking forward to the next race.”
Iker Lecuona: “First, I have to say sorry to my team and then I also have to say ‘thank you’ to them. We struggled a lot during this weekend but we finally tried something on the bike, which made me feel better and a lot more confident. We knew we could fight for the points. In the race, I did always 55’s low, I passed many riders and caught the group in front of me. But then, I suddenly lost the front. I eventually felt really confident with the bike and felt very fast. I need to take this to Portimao.”
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Race Manager: “We can be happy with both riders in the points and Brad rode so well to be only five seconds behind the winner. We worked very hard in all the sessions to find a setting and got better by the last weekend here at Losail. Miguel had a slight technical issue with his display and it was tough to accept because he could have had a great race after the start he made. I haven’t seen many starts like that in MotoGP and it indicates to a good future potential. We have some bright points to take from this tricky circuit for us: improvements to the bike and fast riders, so let’s go to Europe now and push on.”
Results MotoGP Tissot Grand Prix of Doha 2021
1. Fabio Quartararo (FRA), Yamaha 42:23. 997
2. Johann Zarco (FRA), Ducati +1.457
3. Jorge Martin (ESP) Ducati +1.500
4. Alex Rins (ESP) Suzuki +2.088
5. Maverick Viñales (ESP) Yamaha +2.110
8. Brad Binder (RSA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +4.979
15. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +8.928
19. Danilo Petrucci (ITA), Tech3 KTM Factory Racing +16.779
DNF. Iker Lecuona (ESP), Tech3 KTM Factory Racing