With the 2022 MotoGP season to kick off in Qatar this weekend, South African racer Brad Binder is “carefully optimistic”.
The Red Bull KTM team leader yesterday said pre-season testing in Sepang saw their new KTM RC16 to have much improved pace in single lap qualifying conditions, compared with its 2021 predecessor.
“The chassis responds much better to brand new soft tyres, that could well result in higher starting grid positions for us.
“But the only time and place to establish that would be during proper qualifying in Qatar,” he told The Citizen during a virtual interview.
Binder, who ended up as the quickest KTM rider during the test sessions, also said the new KTM seems “a lot kinder to the tyres” over full race distances.
“Last year we suffered on early race pace, because the front tyres did not inspire confidence. They would get better towards the end of the race, but by then there would be a lot of people to catch and pass.
“Hopefully, we will find ourselves closer to the front, earlier in races,” Binder said.
“I feel I can use the grip we now have a lot more than was the case last year,” he added.
Binder, who won two races in his first two season in MotoGP, fully understands the magnitude of the task ahead of him. After finishing his debut season in MotoGP in 11th place in 2020, he managed sixth place last year.
“World champion Fabio Quatararo seems right on the pace for Yamaha, there are eight competitive Ducatis who are always quick in qualifying, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro will be right in the fray, and you can never discount the Suzuki works team.
“That apart, Aprilia have come alive during testing with Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales.
“In all, the challenges will be formidable, but this is the world’s top echelon of motorcycle racing, and it could never be easy.
“We can just go and do our best,” Binder concluded.
His brother Darryn, who will represent the WithU Yamaha RNF team in MotoGP this year, ended the Sepang testing sessions in 22nd place.
To see the 2022 MotoGP race calender, click here.