Red Bull KTM marked a major racing milestone today at a hot Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky for the third round of the 2020 season. Brad Binder, in just his third outing in the premier class, took the KTM RC16 to a clear victory: the first for the company in MotoGP, the first for the South African (and for his country) and the second trophy from only three-and-a-half years KTM have been on the grid.
MotoGP basked in more elevated summer temperatures for the annual visit to the Automotodrom Brno. Teams and riders had spent the better part of two days refining set-ups in the search for traction and to preserve tire life across the bumpy asphalt. Red Bull KTM saw Pol Espargaro and Brad Binder launch away from the econd and third rows of the starting grid with the Red Bull KTM Tech3 RC16s machines of Miguel Oliveira and Iker Lecuona also in the mix.
Both Espargaro and Binder settled into the top five from the outset. While Binder found extra speed to work his way to the front, Espargaro was in hot pursuit until he collided with Johann Zarco in the tussle for 3rd place and crashed out on lap 10. Lecuona was also a faller.
Binder went from strength to strength as he passed the winner of the first two Grands Prix, Fabio Quartararo, and also Franco Morbidelli to control the race from P1 and with authority for the last nine laps of the 21. Miguel Oliveira also moved through the pack and his 6th position at the flag represented his personal best result in MotoGP to-date.
Brad Binder: “Honestly, right now, I’m lost for words. I’ve dreamt of this since I was a little boy and today it came true. It is amazing to win my first GP [in MotoGP]. Thank you to everybody who supported me, and the whole team: they put an insane motorcycle beneath me today! I didn’t know if we could win but I knew we would have a go. It was the craziest ten laps of my life at the end. I was being as soft as I could. It was incredible. Unbelievable.”
Miguel Oliveira: “It was a good end to the weekend. We had a decent race and I feel that we have done a good job the entire weekend. Looking at the race, our starting position cost us a better result but we need to live with that and do a better job next race in just a few days’ time.”
Pol Espargaro: “It’s unfair but it is racing, and we have to deal with these things. I was behind Brad and watching the others and playing with the maps to be strong at the end. I felt I could make ‘58s in the last laps, so I was trying to be relaxed when the contact happened. I could not show my potential and win the first race for KTM but I’m happy for Brad because he’s a good guy and works hard. We had a real chance today and we’ll hope for another one very soon.”
Iker Lecuona: "On Sunday I felt prepared. I passed some riders but when I tried to overtake Joan Mir in corner 13, I knew that there were some bumps. He was quite slow on the straight, I was left of him, in a good position, but he just closed the line. So, I tried to release the brake a bit and to save the situation but finally I touched him and we crashed. Maybe I should have waited longer but this seemed to be a good opportunity. So, I want to say sorry to my team and also sorry to Joan. Anyway, we improved a lot this weekend and we learned a lot, so we will see what will happen in Austria."
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Race Manager: “It was amazing today. All weekend we felt quite competitive on this track with good lap-times among the riders and we expected something from the race. Brad had the race pace and Pol was at the same point, and even though we could not be happier we could have had even more from this GP! Miguel also did great to take 6th so in general we are more than happy. We started this project in 2017 and many people have been involved. We built a complete infrastructure in KTM. People in the company had the right mentality because we had to push: we did not have the road racing history of other manufacturers we are competing against. When I look back at these three years there have been ups-and-downs but the pay-off has been unbelievable today. We’ve saw in Jerez – and again here – that we are much closer to the front. On this long, technical track at Brno, and with our different technical philosophy with a steel chassis and WP Suspension, we got the job done and it’s a great payback to every person who has been connected to the project. I’m very happy to give back something to the KTM board for the great investment they made, their 100% belief and our main sponsor who also had full belief in us. Now, we will go to our home Grand Prix now and will work hard from FP1.”
Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsports Director: “For KTM this is an unbelievable day. It’s historic for our company and for the whole team but of course for Brad Binder; who has believed in us and our project for many years. Today is payback for so much hard work. We knew we had a better bike for this year and this did not happen by accident: it came from everything we learned during the last years. With Dani Pedrosa, Mika Kallio and the test team we worked and developed for over a full year to have this bike now. At the end of the day you need a fantastic rider to put the bike on the top step and Brad did it today, and in the same style as he won in Moto3 and Moto2 races for us. It´s an incredible feeling and we will now build on this result. On the other hand, I want to thank Pol Espargaro because also he - together with his crew – brought every piece of the puzzle together to bring this project to the top. Today is the result of a fantastic team effort: at home in Munderfing and Mattighofen, through the test team and a great crew on track.”
Moto2 & Moto3
The Moto3 race opened the Grand Prix and Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Raul Fernandez started from Pole Position for the first time. The Spaniard was part of the customary large group of riders swapping places in the lead pack and eventually completed the 18-laps in 6th. Solunion Aspar Team’s Albert Arenas climbed the podium in 2nd place and continues to lead the championship. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jorge Martin classified 8th in the Moto2 race. Tetsuta Nagashima rode to 11th place and currently sits 3rd in the standings.
MotoGP travels to Austria and to the Red Bull Ring for the first of back-to-back weekends starting August 16th at the fast Spielberg circuit.
Results MotoGP Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky 2020
1. Brad Binder (RSA), Red Bull KTM
2. Franco Morbidelli (ITA), Yamaha 41:22.666
3. Johann Zarco (FRA), Ducati +4.495
3. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha +5.546
4. Alex Rins (JPN), Honda +6.113
5. Joan Mir (ESP), Yamaha +7.693
6. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Tech3 +7.969
DNF. Pol Espargaro (ESP), Red Bull KTM
DNF. Iker Lecuona (ESP), Red Bull KTM Tech3
Results Moto2 Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky 2020
1. Enea Bastianini (ITA) 39:13.926
2. Sam Lowes (GBR) +0.423
3. Joe Roberts (USA) +5.948
8. Jorge Martin (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +11.366
11. Tetsuta Nagashima (JPN) Red Bull KTM Ajo +15.378
Results Moto3 Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky 2020
1. Dennis Foggia (ITA) Honda 39:06.370
2. Albert Arenas (ESP) KTM +0.205
3. Ai Ogura (JPN) Honda +0.251
6. Raul Fernandez (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.808