2016 Moto3 Champion
At 21-years old, Brad Binder’s time has come. With four rounds remaining in the 2016 Moto3 Championship, the South African Red Bull KTM Ajo pilot has secured Sunday his first-ever title at Motorland Aragon.
Binder became just the third South African rider to claim a GP title since the series began in 1949. The other two are Jon Ekerold (350cc, 1980) and Kork Ballington (350cc, 250cc, 1978 & 1979).
Binder was also the first rider to ever be crowned at Spain’s Motorland Aragon. Binder finished a mere 0.030 of a second behind Honda’s Jorge Navarro. But 20 points were enough; he was able to clinch the 2016 Moto3 title due to amassing 249 points, 106 ahead of Navarro with only 100 points available in the remaining four races.
Following the race, Binder said: “I don’t know what to say. Everything feels so strange – nothing feels real! It was tough. I struggled a lot in that race. Every time I tried to open the throttle I would miss the apex and go wide so I had to run other lines to the other guys…
“When I was behind them it was so difficult to keep a fast lap time. I tried my best to try and win the race but Bastianini and Navarro were both incredibly strong. I struggled to stay with them at the start but at the end I felt really strong. In the last corner, I saw Navarro was on my inside so I knew I had to brake super late and close the door – but I braked a bit too late. I went wide and that was it.
“I expected a bit of a bigger group. A few times I fell back down to 3rd or 4th and then tried to catch up again – I had to be a bit aggressive a few times because some of the guys were getting a bit crazy. It’s a day I’ll never forget. It’s special to win the championship here and in the future Aragon is definitely going to have a soft spot in my heart.”
Following is the official profile of Brad Binder:
Binder began his journey to world champion as a Red Bull Rookie in 2009, making steady progress before 2012 and his first full time entry onto the world stage with RW Racing GP. He took 24 points in a solid rookie season – using that as a foundation for the year after as he moved to Ambrogio Racing and ended the year 13th in the title, ready for the next step: get on the podium.
2014 was the year Binder first enjoyed the taste of cava on the world championship stage with two rostrum finishes, setting the scene for a move to Red Bull KTM Ajo, with the South African ready to join a team so often a title-challenger in the lower class.
Beginning 2016 with three podiums in a row and a pole position in Argentina, the fuse on his championship challenge was really lit at the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez, in which he took his maiden win. Starting from the back of the grid after a technical infringement, the South African fought his way back through with almost unbelievable aggression and speed, soon heading the second group and on the way to catching the front freight train in the Moto3™ battle. Arriving with laps to spare, the 2016 Moto3 world champion then passed his rivals and tucked back in – taking the victory with a comfortable margin and announcing his intentions for the year. With his first win under his belt, Binder’s success simply continued to roll, winning the two subsequent races and suffering only one DNF in wet conditions in Brno; crashing out the lead in the Czech GP proving the only blot on his 2016 record.
Four more wins and a stunning 106 point margin upon arrival to the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragon in September saw Binder with his first mathematical shot at the title – and the odds were not long.
Qualifying in P7 and then keeping his cool despite the crown waiting for him at the finish line, Binder raced how he knows how – to win. With Bastianini and Navarro initially breaking away at the front, the South African kept himself in it and laid it on the line into the final corner – not quite enough for the victory, but more than enough for the championship as he crossed the line only 0.030 off winner Navarro.
Binder is the first man ever to be crowned at MotorLand Aragon, becoming the third South African champion in history after one of the most incredible title campaigns in recent seasons.
Brad Binder Fast Facts:
• Brad Binder is the first South African rider to win a grand prix world title in any class since Jon Ekerold won the 350cc title in 1980.
• He is the first ever South African rider to win the lightweight-class world title.
• He has won the world title with four races of the season remaining, something that has never previously been achieved in the lightweight-class of grand prix racing under the current scoring system introduced in 1993.
• This is the third time that a KTM rider has won the Moto3 world title, adding to the championships won by Sandro Cortese in 2012 and Maverick Viñales in 2013.
• At the age of 21 years 45 days, Binder is the youngest ever South African to win a grand prix world title.
• Binder took the lead of the championship when he finished third at the second race of the year in Argentina and has remained at the head of the championship table throughout the rest of the season.