• Brad Binder finished the Valencian Grand Prix in fifth place.
• The South African had a difficult start, but made up places as the race progressed.
• KTM the top brand in MotoGP with all three KTM RC16s in the top six.
• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za
For the fifth time in 2020 MotoGP, the series negotiated back-to-back meetings with round fourteen of fifteen taking place at the flat, tight and curvy Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia. Red Bull KTM started the sunny but breezy 27-lap Grand Prix with three riders in the first ten positions on the grid: Pol Espargaro heading the trio on his KTM RC16 in 5th spot.
When the red light vanished on Sunday afternoon, Espargaro immediately vied for the lead and then established a strong pace to hold third behind Pole-sitter Franco Morbidelli and Jack Miller. The Spaniard had to deal with pressure from Takaaki Nakagami but then had breathing room when the Japanese rider crashed entering the final corner.
At the finish line, Espargaro was just three seconds away from Morbidelli's rear wheel. His third position represents a repeat of his classification from the previous Sunday, his fifth podium of 2020 and KTM's seventh top-three this year. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing is now up to third in the Teams Championship, and Espargaro himself is seventh and 16 points from third in the Riders' table.
Cutting through the pack
Closely behind Espargaro Brad Binder forged a watchable race speed to cut through the pack and duel with Alex Rins. The South African was less than half a second away from the Spaniard by the checkered flag, and his ride delivered the third top-five result of the campaign for the rookie. Binder's performance was especially satisfying considering Valencia was the location of his very first laps with the RC16 at the end of 2019 and where he was several seconds adrift of the leading riders. Once again, the 25-year old was able to demonstrate his superb progression in his maiden season.
Chasing Binder, Red Bull KTM Tech3's Miguel Oliveira ended a decent week in Spain with a sixth position to go with his fifth scored at the Gran Premio de Europa last weekend. The Portuguese has now posted four top-six results from the last five races and is tenth in the world championship standings.
Brad Binder: "Today was a positive race for us. I didn't get the best of starts, but I managed to find a good pace, pass a few guys and work my way towards the front. I gave my absolute best today, and unfortunately, it was not enough to get us into that podium fight. Overall, I'm happy with how we have made steps this weekend; from Friday through to the race. We have a lot of learning to do still, but we're looking forward to Portimao already. Thanks to the team and everyone for their hard work. We'll push again next week."
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Race Manager: "Two weekends and two podiums, so that's a great achievement by the team and also Pol but the big thing today was all three bikes in the top six. We're really happy with the work done by Brad and Miguel. Overall it is a massive credit to the company and what a great bike they have made for 2020. We have been pushing for this. Big thanks to everyone for the job and for their motivation in what has been an intense season so far."