• South African MotoGP star Brad Binder had his best finish of the year at the 2021 German Grand Prix.
• Binder recently equalled the highest top speed in MotoGP, clocking 362.4km/h.
• Several improvements to Binder's KTM should see him on the podium soon.
• For more motoring stories, go to Wheels24.
As the 2021 MotoGP season nears the mid-year break, South African Brad Binder can be happy with his progress so far. The KTM was one of the best bikes on the grid last year, but when Michelin introduced asymmetric front tyres for the 2021 season, the team went backwards.
The change saw the team struggling at the year's initial races, marred by a lack of front-end grip that saw them visit the kitty litter more than they would have liked.
Fortunately, the engine and aerodynamic package have been working well, with Binder equaling the highest speed ever recorded in MotoGP, clocking 362.4km/h down the straight at Mugello recently.
All that was needed was to get the motorcycle to turn at speed. However, the team never gave up, developing new parts and refining the setup of their KTM machine. 3D printing and even a new fuel have slowly made their machine more competitive, but the recent introduction of a new steel trellis frame has really transformed their motorcycle.
KTM recently developed and started racing with a new frame; along with several small improvements, the new chassis seems to be doing the job. The motorcycle is now working better in conjunction with the asymmetric front tyre.
The new frame allows the KTM to turn better, taking pressure off the front tyre. When the bike turns more naturally, the riders are also using the edge of the rear tyre less, which is better for tyre life.
The new chassis has seen the Red Bull KTM factory riders Miguel Oliviera and Brad Binder consistently battle in the top six, where they were previously struggling to break into the top 10. Miguel Oliviera was second in Mugello, won the race in Barcelona and was on the podium again in Germany, with another second place.
It has taken South African Brad Binder slightly longer to get up to speed. This can be attributed to visiting some tracks for the first time in 2021 following many race cancellations in his 2020 MotoGP rookie year due to Covid-19.
This past weekend's race at the Sachsenring in Germany was a 30-lap battle at one of the tightest, twisty and most technical circuits on the calendar. Both Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder made excellent progress from the second and fourth rows of the grid. They slotted into the top seven and a leading group, all marking similar lap-times in the first phase of the Grand Prix showpiece.
Brad Binder had a fantastic race on his maiden visit to the Sachsenring on the KTM RC16. The South African had a busy time dealing with fellow factory riders but made the break in the last three laps. Unfortunately, he could not close up to the rear of the Yamaha of Fabio Quartararo and the final rostrum slot. Still, the fourth position represented his third top-five classifications and pulled him up to 8th in the championship.
Binder was running the exact lap times as those in the top six, so he certainly had the pace, but the Sachsenring is a notoriously difficult track to overtake on. A better qualifying result would have almost certainly put the South African on the podium.
"I'm really happy with fourth in the end because we started the Grand Prix by being stone-last in FP1. I slowly worked my way forward through the weekend. It wasn't easy for me to adapt to this place on the bigger bike. I gave it my absolute all out there today. I tried as hard as I could. I wanted the podium - and I could see Fabio - but ran out of time to get close enough.
"In general, I'm happy with the job we did, and the team worked fantastically because when I was struggling, they continued to make the bike better and better, and that brought my level up. We made a big step. Thanks, guys, let's see what we can do in Assen," said Binder.
He has always been a Sunday man, using the practice sessions and qualifying to get the bike set up for race day and being on the pace when it counts. However, I do think that if he and the team could get the bike to perform better during qualifying, he will, just like his teammate, be a regular podium contender.
KTM continues to see potential in Binder; he recently signed a new contract to see him remain part of the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team until the end of the 2024 MotoGP season.
The next round of the MotoGP championship takes place this weekend, 25-27 June, at Assen in The Netherlands.