Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder was the top-ranked KTM MotoGP racer for the second Grand Prix in a row as the South African captured 7th place in the sweltering climes of MotorLand Aragon.
Hot temperatures at MotorLand Aragon marked the thirteenth Grand Prix of the 2021 campaign and the third of four visits planned to the Spanish mainland. 23 hard and fast laps of the 5.1km layout tested resolve, tire endurance and race management and a contest where 26-year-old Binder emerged as the leading rider on the KTM RC16.
Binder launched from 12th place on the grid and slipped into the exhaust stream of Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Iker Lecuona; the young Spaniard showing excellent pace on home turf. The KTM pair circulated together in a dispute for 7th and ahead of championship leader Fabio Quartararo. Lecuona dropped down to 10th by running wide at Turn 8 and Binder had breathing room to move up to 6th and then stare at a large gap to 5th. He then had to negotiate the last three laps with fading rear grip and took 7th by the flag. Lecuona, nursing a sore shoulder after his fall in Free Practice on Friday, scored 11th.
Miguel Oliveira, starting from 18th, made up four positions despite his struggles with effective rear traction. The Portuguese gathered 14th and was three seconds in front of Danilo Petrucci who bagged the final GP point for 15th.
MotoGP travels to Italy this week and for the second meeting in the space of seven days. The Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli is slated for two rounds of the championship as the season enters the final phase. The thirteenth Grand Prix occurs next Sunday with the sixteenth GP marked for the same flat and winding circuit on the final weekend of October.
Brad Binder: “It was a tough race for us, really difficult, I tried my absolute best at the beginning not to destroy my rear tire so that I would have something left for the end. Even though I nursed the left-hand side really well it gave me a very hard time on the last few laps. I need to say a huge thank you to the team because they worked so hard this weekend. The bike is working well, we just need a little bit more to be a bit more competitive. We are struggling more than we’d like to right now but it’s not for a lack of effort, that’s for sure. If we keep working then we are going to get there.”
Iker Lecuona: “I’m happy on one side as I did a very good race. The pace was unbelievable! I made some mistakes and especially one in corner eight, where I lost many positions back to P11. I tried to recover but after I had hit my shoulder very hard in my crash on Friday it made me struggle on the last laps. I still kept pushing and recovered almost two seconds to come back to that group. I even tried to pass Nakagami to finish in the top 10, but it was impossible. It’s still ok. I’m very happy about this weekend, I worked well. Thanks to everybody, who believes in me; to my family, my manager and also thanks to the team, that always works very well.”
Danilo Petrucci: “In the end, we managed to score one point, even if the race was really difficult. It was impossible for me to overtake and even stay with the pack, as I couldn’t get past anyone and was slower into the corners. Twice I almost hit a rider in front of me then I started to push and push and push but I struggled all the race with the front tyre, as it was very hot. Unfortunately, I made some mistakes. At the end we scored that point, which is ok. We did our best.”
Miguel Oliveira: “Tough race for me. After the bad qualifying yesterday we made a couple of positions but I didn’t have the best feedback from the front end to be able to ride at my best. The team is working hard, I’m working hard and I’m sure we’ll come up with a good solution. Misano is a challenging track but I like it. We’ll hope for a good result.”
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Race Manager: “It was hard for us to post a single fast, flying lap from Friday morning on this track. We knew we would be stronger in the race but from those grid positions we also knew it would be tough. To be fair Brad and Iker pushed so hard in the first half of the race and against strong competition. Iker made a mistake and Brad continued to make the maximum possible. It was difficult to manage the tires and Miguel had issues from the beginning with rear grip, which he’d had all weekend. We need to help him and all of our riders to overcome these obstacles and I hope we can again fight for the top five when we come to Misano next week.”
Results MotoGP Gran Premio Tissot de Aragon 2021
1. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati 41:44.422
2. Marc Marquez (ESP) Honda +0.673
3. Joan Mir (ESP) Suzuki +3.911
4. Aleix Espargaro (ESP), Aprilia +9.269
4. Jack Miller (AUS), Ducati +11.928
7. Brad Binder (RSA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +14.064
11. Iker Lecuona (ESP), Tech3 KTM Factory Racing +17.124
14. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +22.703
15. Danilo Petrucci (ITA), Tech3 KTM Factory Racing +25.723