Jaco Van Der Merwe

By Jaco Van Der Merwe

Head of Motoring

KTM lauds Brad Binder for his brave ride in MotoGP opener

South African star finishes sixth at Algarve despite suffering from neck and back pain.

The Red Bull KTM Factory team is keen to build on Brad Binder and Jack Miller’s solid performances at the Portugal MotoGP on Sunday.

Binder braved through neck and shoulder pain to finish in sixth place at the season’s opener at the Algarve International Circuit, while his team-mate Miller finished seventh.

It was a good comeback from Binder, who failed to score points after finishing 12th in the historic sprint race on Saturday.

Binder left Portugal with 10 world championship points and Miller, who finished the sprint race in fourth place on Saturday, with 15.

World champion Francesco Bagnaia took the maximum of 37 points on offer by winning both the spring and the main race in Portugal.

Brad Binder fight through pain

“Today was pretty good. It has been a hard weekend because it was very tough for me to get comfortable on the bike,” Binder, who fought his way from 14th on the grid, told the KTM website after the race.

“I was suffering a lot but today my team made a big step forward with my RC16 and I was much more confident in the end. The last five laps were really demanding physically but the step forwards we made was very satisfying and I’m hoping for more in Argentina.

“I just need to figure out how to be 100% fit there.”

ALSO READ: WATCH: Brad Binder sets new benchmark around Kyalami

Good pace

The 2016 MotoGP champion ran as high as fourth near the end of the race, but had no answer to Alex Marquez and Johann Zarco who came storming past him.

What will give KTM lots of confidence is the fact that they closed the gap to the high-flying Ducatis since pre-season testing.

Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM’s team manager, was full of praise for Binder and hopeful their bikes can show further progress soon.

“Brad was struggling with his neck but the bike setup was much more in the direction he wanted. He had a super-good race,” Guiddotti said.

ALSO READ: Brad Binder hopeful 2023 will be his best MotoGP season yet

Big improvement

“Yesterday his distance to the winner was eight seconds and today it was the same but at double the laps, so this was significant. A massive improvement.

“Let’s go to Argentina. A blank page again, and we’ll see.”

MotoGP now moves to Argentina which hosts the next race next weekend.

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