Red Bull KTM Factory Racing came through 27 demanding laps of the Phillip Island circuit with championship points as Brad Binder battled brilliantly to classify 10th and Miguel Oliveira sped back to 12th for round 18 of 20 in 2022 MotoGP. Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Remy Gardner also entered the top fifteen at the Animoca Brands Australian Grand Prix.
Sunny and breezy conditions graced the fourth round of 2022 MotoGP in five weeks as Phillip Island provided a close, tense and entertaining scrap for honors. The short but fast and flowing layout tested concentration, consistency, bike set-up and tire preservation. For the KTM MotoGP wing the Australian course was a contrast to the hard-braking and acceleration requirements found in Japan and Thailand in recent weekends. The event was also the first visit by the world championship to the Victorian state venue since 2019; meaning MotoGP ‘debuts’ for Brad Binder, home hope Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez.
Binder was the leading light despite some tough times in practice and qualification that meant the South African had to getaway from 16th on the grid. #33 was then bumped off track on the first lap after making decent inroads from the start. Binder showed amazing pace to cut through to the leaders and reach as high as 7th before rear tire wear began to eat into his lap-times. Despite a last few tricky circulations Binder was less than six seconds away from the winner. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teammate Miguel Oliveira was almost ruled out of the running for points due to a three-place grid sanction – which put the Portuguese at the back of the order – and a mandatory Long Lap penalty; a result of an on-track infringement during Q1 on Saturday. Oliveira circulated at decent speed however to grab 12th despite the handicaps.
Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Remy Gardner made the most of his first outing on home soil in three seasons (and his maiden MotoGP spin at Phillip Island) to qualify as the second-best KTM RC16 rider and then ride to the final point in 15th. Raul Fernandez left the circuit on Sunday with 16th place in his pocket.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, who worked diligently and effectively to increase the potential of the RC16 technology for race conditions on Sunday, are 3rd from a total of 12 in the team’s championship standings while Binder is the highest-placed racer in 6th; staring at a 19-point deficit to the top five with just 50 left to win this season. Oliveira is 10th.
The Sepang International Circuit will host the Petronas Grand Prix of Malaysia next weekend and the penultimate date of the 2022 MotoGP campaign.
Brad Binder: “It was an extremely challenging weekend and in the end we were the strongest when it came to the race so hats-off to the team again. They did a fantastic job and helped us salvage some points today. I had a great start but going into Turn 4 a few guys hit each other, they sat up and then someone hit me and I had to go straight on. I went from the top ten to outside the top sixteen. I had to claw my way forward and got up to the lead group but I knew that I was being hard on my rear tire. It was a race where you had to save rubber but I didn’t really have a choice after that first lap. I had to push and get as high as I could. Not happy at all to finish in 10th but we fought the best we could and we will take information and data from here to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Miguel Oliveira: “I’m pleased to finish with points after starting last and making the Long Lap but, in seeing our pace, it is a bit disappointing to have been in that situation. I made the most of where I was and now I’m looking forward to Malaysia because I think we can be very competitive there.”
Remy Gardner: “A good start to the race and I stayed close to the front group for thirteen-fourteen laps more or less as I felt strong on the bike. At one point, we were in P10. Then the tires started dropping and we lost a couple of positions but I had a lot of fun riding here today. The fans have been incredible all weekend, and it was good to spend some time with them on the cooling down lap after the race. Thank you to all of them who came supporting us this weekend, they have been amazing.”
Raul Fernandez: “I have enjoyed the last couple of races although this is not the place where both my team and myself want to be. In terms of pace, we have been close to the other KTM riders which is a positive point. This track does not have so many corners to overtake, turns 4 and 10 are the main ones. We had a few fights with Franco Morbidelli but we lost time doing so and my race pace was better after he crashed. I think that we made the right tire decision today although it was tough to manage within the final laps, but I am happy with my race overall today.”
Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM Team Manager: “A tough race because Brad was hit twice and had to recover positions but he was in the leading group and he kept the pace. He paid for the force he had to make with the tire drop in the last five laps and he couldn’t fight for something better but his race speed was there and he was fighting. Miguel made a fantastic comeback and to be just 13 seconds back from the winner was incredible. We feel like we missed an opportunity here but we go to Sepang really, really confident.”
Results MotoGP Animoca Brands Australian Grand Prix
1. Alex Rins (ESP), Suzuki 40:50.654
2. Marc Marquez (ESP), Honda +0.186
3. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati +0.224
4. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA), Ducati +0.534
5. Enea Bastianini (ITA) Ducati +0.557
10. Brad Binder (RSA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +5.940
12. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +13.606
15. Remy Gardner (AUS), Tech3 KTM Factory Racing +19.470
16. Raul Fernandez (ESP), Tech3 KTM Factory Racing +20.645