Motorcycle Racing News MotoGP KTM, Rookie Binder, and South Africa Make MotoGP History

KTM, Rookie Binder, and South Africa Make MotoGP History

During round three of the 2020 MotoGP – the Monster Energy Czech Republic Grand Prix at Brno – three new names entered the MotoGP history books: KTM, Brad Binder, and South Africa.

All three achieved their debut MotoGP wins at Brno.

The rookie Brad Binder of South Africa piloted the KTM RC16 at Automotodrom Brno, claiming the victory by 5.266 seconds ahead of Petronas Yamaha SRT’s Franco Morbidelli and Esponsorama Racing Ducati’s Johann Zarco.

Binder, the only South African in MotoGP, started from seventh. By lap nine of 21, he took the lead and performed nearly flawlessly en route to victory.

Binder was also the first rookie to win a premier-class race since 2013 – the year then-rookie Marc Marquez claimed six wins and the title.

KTM RC16 en route to victory at Brno MotoGP

“Honestly, right now, I’m lost for words,” Binder said after the race. “I’ve dreamt of this since I was a little boy and today it came true. It is amazing to win my first GP [in MotoGP].

“Thank you to everybody who supported me, and the whole team; they put an insane motorcycle beneath me today! I didn’t know if we could win but I knew we would have a go. It was the craziest ten laps of my life at the end. I was being as soft as I could. It was incredible. Unbelievable.”

Binder joined Red Bull KTM Factory Racing for 2020, riding alongside Pol Espargaro, the Spaniard who spent four years developing the KTM RC16 that officially entered MotoGP in 2017.

Espargaro, who crashed out of Sunday’s Czech Republic GP after colliding with former teammate Zarco, provided KTM with its debut podium during the 2018 season at Valencia.

Binder has a long history with KTM, racing for the Red Bull KTM Ajo team in Moto3 in 2015 and 2016, and then again for the team in Moto2 from 2017 through 2019.

Brad Binder makes history for KTM in MotoGP

Following KTM’s first MotoGP victory, many involved with the Austrian manufacturer and racing efforts provided comment:

Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Race Manager: “It was amazing today. All weekend we felt quite competitive on this track with good lap-times among the riders and we expected something from the race. Brad had the race pace and Pol was at the same point, and even though we could not be happier we could have had even more from this GP! Miguel also did great to take sixth so in general we are more than happy.

“We started this project in 2017 and many people have been involved. We built a complete infrastructure in KTM. People in the company had the right mentality because we had to push; we did not have the road racing history of other manufacturers we are competing against. When I look back at these three years there have been ups-and-downs but the pay-off has been unbelievable today.

“We’ve seen in Jerez – and again here – that we are much closer to the front. On this long, technical track at Brno, and with our different technical philosophy with a steel chassis and WP Suspension, we got the job done and it’s a great payback to every person who has been connected to the project. I’m very happy to give back something to the KTM board for the great investment they made, their 100% belief and our main sponsor who also had full belief in us. Now, we will go to our home Grand Prix and will work hard from FP1.”

Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsports Director: “For KTM this is an unbelievable day. It’s historic for our company and for the whole team but of course for Brad Binder, who has believed in us and our project for many years. Today is payback for so much hard work. We knew we had a better bike for this year and this did not happen by accident: it came from everything we learned during the last years.

“With Dani Pedrosa, Mika Kallio and the test team we worked and developed for over a full year to have this bike now. At the end of the day you need a fantastic rider to put the bike on the top step and Brad did it today, and in the same style as he won in Moto3 and Moto2 races for us.

“It’s an incredible feeling and we will now build on this result. On the other hand, I want to thank Pol Espargaro because also he – together with his crew – brought every piece of the puzzle together to bring this project to the top. Today is the result of a fantastic team effort; at home in Munderfing and Mattighofen, through the test team and a great crew on track.”

KTM, Rookie Binder, and South Africa Make MotoGP History

Stefan Pierer, CEO KTM AG: “It is difficult to describe the intense emotions we feel on this very special and historic day for KTM. Firstly, I would like to congratulate Brad not only on his exceptional ride, but his loyalty and belief in KTM for many years – we will certainly enjoy this moment together.

“I would also like to share our thanks to Pol for his incredible effort in helping us achieve this victory; his work has been pivotal in the whole project and in reaching this point where we see our bikes near or at the front of the field. Since we began this program our ambition has been the same as it is for every racing discipline, and we knew that achieving our goals here would be exceptionally difficult, but not impossible. Step by step we have been moving closer and closer to the front, defying some expectations as we continued to believe in what we could achieve.

“To win a race in our fourth year in MotoGP is testament to the work ethic and knowhow of our KTM Motorsports department and R&D engineers. I would like to offer our special thanks to Pit Beirer and Mike Leitner for their lead in the project, and tireless work in making this program a success. Our vision is to create a clear pathway with our riders to the top, and this has been achieved with Brad following his success with KTM in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup, Moto3 and Moto2. We now look forward to our ‘home’ races at the Red Bull Ring where we can celebrate this huge milestone in KTM’s story.”

The series now heads to Austria for round four at KTM’s home circuit – the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.

Ron Lieback
Ron Lieback
One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007, and is currently Online Editor at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of "365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).

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