The Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi proved to be a promising race for KTM rider Brad Binder. Given two of the new RC16s for the race, Binder immediately showcased his competitiveness, setting a new lap record during Friday practice. This strong performance carried over into the sprint race on Saturday, where he emerged as the closest challenger to Jorge Martin, ultimately securing second place. It was a result that marked his best since the Red Bull Ring round in August. Binder’s success in the early stages of the race hinted at a potential breakthrough for the KTM team.
During the sprint race battle with Pramac Ducati rider Jorge Martin, Binder experienced a setback. Around four laps into the 12-lap contest, his soft rear tire started to deteriorate, hampering his ability to exit corners as quickly as his rival. Binder acknowledged this issue, stating, “For me, it’s just when we started to drop a bit the rear tire, I lost some turning, and then my pick-up was too late so I was losing a bit of the draft.” He recognized the strengths of his competitor in terms of bike control and emphasized the need for improvement in this area. The mid-corner performance of the RC16 was relatively better, but Binder identified room for growth when it came to tire wear.
When asked about the KTM’s performance in wet conditions after Sunday’s race, Binder expressed satisfaction with the bike’s braking and entry capabilities. However, he admitted to struggling slightly on corner exit. Despite this, Binder believed he was closing the gap on those ahead of him and attributed any difficulties to pushing too hard. The wet race showcased the potential of the new RC16, leaving room for optimism regarding future wet weather performances.
While confident in the improvements made with the carbon fiber chassis, Binder remained cautious about the RC16’s championship prospects against benchmark manufacturer Ducati. He acknowledged the progress made, noting, “It’s a small step in the direction we’ve been asking for, sure. It’s not a massive, massive difference.” Binder recognized the importance of incremental gains, highlighting that even a tenth or two could have a significant impact in the larger scheme of things. He believed that the KTM team had found a good combination of small adjustments that would contribute to their overall performance.
Jack Miller, Binder’s teammate at KTM, also had the opportunity to ride the new RC16 at Motegi. He finished fourth in the sprint race and, despite the rain-shortened main race, managed to secure sixth place. Miller’s results added further credibility to the changes made by KTM and reinforced the team’s potential for success in the future.
Brad Binder’s performance at the Japanese Grand Prix showcased the progress made by KTM with their new RC16. While there were areas needing improvement, such as tire wear and corner exit, Binder’s strong start and competitive spirit demonstrated the potential of the team. With incremental gains and a solid combination of adjustments, KTM has taken a step towards being a consistent contender in the MotoGP championship. As they continue to fine-tune their carbon fiber chassis and build on their success, the future looks promising for the KTM team.