Brad Binder again showed his pure racer’s creed by taking his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing RC16 to runner-up status at a sunny and warm Mobility Resort Motegi circuit for the Motul Grand Prix of Japan.
Round sixteen of the current MotoGP series transported the world championship from Spain directly to Motegi and the first circulations of the Japanese course since 2019. The Grand Prix was affected by rain and humid conditions during practice and qualification, which saw Brad Binder excel in Q2 to place 3rd in the classification and start from the front row of the grid for the first time in his young MotoGP career. Miguel Oliveira was not far away in 8th.
Sunday presented a different challenge as the skies cleared to be replaced by sunshine. The switch of climate meant a change of setup for the teams and riders and a degree of tire choice guesswork for the 24-lap race in mid-afternoon.
As he did in Aragon last week, Binder made a lively getaway and swept into the lead around the first corner. He had little answer to the speed of future teammate Jack Miller but produced a remarkable overtaking move on Jorge Martin through Turn 1 on the last lap to seize P2, equaling his best result so far in 2022. OIiveira briefly matched Binder pace in the formative stages but then had his hands full with Marc Marquez. The Portuguese was still able to bring his RC16 home in 5th and his third top-five classification of the campaign. Miguel’s efforts also ensured both Red Bull KTM Factory Racing bikes breached the first five positions together for the first time in 2022 and the squad are currently the fourth best team of twelve on the grid.
Raul Fernandez was the highest ranked rider for Tech3 KTM Factory Racing. The Spaniard beat his teammate, Remy Gardner, by just a tenth of a second as the pair fought for 18th position.
MotoGP continues its intense run of events with round seventeen taking place next weekend at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram for the OR Thailand Grand Prix.
Brad Binder: “I’m really, really happy to be back on the podium today. I pushed as hard as I could right from the beginning. I had a few moments with the hard rear tire and it took me a while to find my confidence but in the end we made a good choice because I became more comfortable and could find my braking markers better. It was so difficult to pass Jorge but I arrived at that point on the last lap right at the perfect time in Turn 1. Thank you so much to my team: they all deserve this podium and we have all worked hard for this.”
Miguel Oliveira: “It was a good race and I am proud of the performance today. The pace was a little bit too fast at the end and I could not hold my 4th place but we had a good weekend, we were fast in every condition and we made a good start. It’s a step in the right direction after two tricky races for me. A decent result and hopefully we can improve on this in Thailand
Raul Fernandez: “Today’s race was not bad in terms of time although it was difficult to be within the last riders. The entire race was interesting, and I think that I learned a lot today. We had a good fight towards the end with Remy; it reminded me a lot about last year when I was fighting for the wins, so it was really fun. Brad Binder was on the podium today, so this is incredible. He is from another world: I do all my laps in the limits and I’m not even close to him. We have a similar rhythm to him but he standouts on small details which make the difference. We have access to his data, so we will analyze it for next week.”
Remy Gardner: “I gave my 100% today in the race. I was on the limit all the time and it was a tough one. I was not comfortable with the front tire so I did what I could today. Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira were fast today. They gain time over us on braking and acceleration at straight line speed, so I am struggling to understand why. We had a good fight with Raul towards the end over the final lap until the final line so it was good fun in memory of last season.”
Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM Team Manager: “Great results here in Motegi and starting from the first row meant that we had another good and improved qualification. When we begin a race from the first rows we know we can show our potential. Brad took the opportunity to go for the podium: an amazing job. Also great by Miguel in 5th after pushing for the podium for half a race. It was a strange and demanding weekend with only one dry session on Friday so the team and the engineers did an incredible job and made the right tire choice with limited information available. It is a team result today. The bike is still improving so we are confident in the direction that we took. Thanks to all who have supported us so far.”
Results MotoGP Motul Grand Prix of Japan
1. Jack Miller (AUS), Ducati 42:29.174
2. Brad Binder (RSA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +3.409
3. Jorge Martin (ESP) Ducati +4.136
4. Marc Marquez (ESP), Honda +7.784
5. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +8.185
18. Raul Fernandez (ESP), Tech3 KTM Factory Racing +29.374
19. Remy Gardner (AUS), Tech3 KTM Factory Racing +29.469