The penultimate Grand Prix of the season drew MotoGP to the sweltering climes of the Sepang International Circuit and under cloudy skies Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder scored another top ten result to stay within reach of the top five in the championship standings.
Morning rainfall in Malaysia caused concern that the nineteenth Grand Prix of the season could be wet for what was the series’ first competitive return to the wide and fast Sepang International Circuit since 2019. Despite the grey clouds and the humidity the 20-lap MotoGP affair remained dry a large 88,000 crowd took their places.
Brad Binder launched his KTM RC16 from 13th on the grid and tried to maximize his feel for traction and grip. The South African was his customary hard and relentless self and bustled his way into the top ten, earning a deserved 8th at the flag. In the formative stages Binder almost counted on teammate Miguel Oliveira for company. The Portuguese started from P18 and was touching 10th position until he then ran into rear grip problems and had to slow his pace. He could not fight for further promotion and accepted 13th.
Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Raul Fernandez was content with a Grand Prix in which he bagged a point with 15th – a distinction for the fifth time this year – and was the lead finisher for the team as Remy Gardner sought effectiveness stickiness, made a couple of mistakes and was narrowly beaten by Alex Marquez for 17th.
After high mileage in trips to Japan, Thailand, Australia and now Malaysia, MotoGP returns to Europe for the curtain-closer. Binder has a 2-point gap over the next nearest rider in 7th but can still catch Jack Miller for 5th in the championship standings. Oliveira is 9th as Red Bull KTM Factory Racing still hold a top three slot in the teams’ competition. The compact and winding Circuito Ricardo Tormo will stage the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana on November 5-6.
Brad Binder: “We learned a lot these last six weeks and had some ‘ups’ as well as some challenging weekends. I need to say thank you to my team because they did an unbelievable job and gave everything every session for me. Unfortunately, the result wasn’t there today and we still need to work to get where we want to be on Sunday afternoons. It is only a matter of time though.”
Miguel Oliveira: “A difficult race. I felt at the beginning I could be fast and made my way into the top ten. I thought that might be a decent result but around lap ten-eleven I started to have issues with the rear tire. I couldn’t stop the bike that well and I ran wide many times by trying to make-up ground. It was frustrating but after so many flyaway races we’re happy to go home and will go to the final race with a lot of motivation. We picked up a win on this trip and a top five finish and that’s what we need to aim for again in Valencia.”
Raul Fernandez: “The team did a great job with the bike because I was feeling like I wanted to. We changed the settings for the race and I enjoyed riding the bike and was riding like a kid. I am very happy to have scored a point, and I will head home with a really good feeling and looking forward to heading to Valencia in Spain in two weeks.”
Remy Gardner: “A tough race and it felt like it was impossible to avoid mistakes because we couldn’t find any rear grip here. It was a similar story in Phillip Island last week. I kept going and kept trying to pass Alex [Marquez] but it was really hard work. Onto the next one.”
Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM Team Manager: “A hard day today and for all the good work by the team these days in Malaysia – and through all of these flyaway GPs the last few weeks – we just couldn’t give the riders the best setting to make the most of the grip here. We have to understand how we can improve to give our guys more drive. It was positive that we stayed 3rd in the teams’ championship and we’ll look forward to Valencia and ending the season in the best possible way.”
Results MotoGP Petronas Grand Prix of Malaysia
1. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati 40:14.332
2. Enea Bastianini (ITA) Ducati +0.270
3. Fabio Quartararo (FRA), Yamaha +2.773
4. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA), Ducati +5.446
5. Alex Rins (ESP), Suzuki +11.923
8. Brad Binder (RSA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +16.805
13. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +24.918
15. Raul Fernandez (ESP), Tech3 KTM Factory Racing +27.039
18. Remy Gardner (AUS), Tech3 KTM Factory Racing +33.691