Last weekend in Buriram, Binder put in another strong showing for KTM with a brace of seconds in the sprint and grand prix (though was demoted to third in the latter for exceeding track limits on the last lap).
It marked his fourth Sunday podium of the year and sixth sprint rostrum, including two wins in the half-distance contests.
The only other KTM rider to have seen a podium in 2023 in a grand prix was Jack Miller, Binder’s team-mate, who was third at the Spanish GP as well as having scored two sprint rostrums.
It hasn’t been an easy year for KTM. Binder has been the only bit of stability in the Austrian marque’s rider ranks. Miller was signed from Ducati for 2023, and thus has needed time to adapt to the unconventional RC16.
While Pol Espargaro is known to KTM, he spent two years away at Honda before returning to the GasGas-branded Tech3 squad this year. Already finding the bike had changed quite a lot in his time away, Espargaro’s season crashed to a halt after suffering numerous fractures in a violent practice accident in Portugal.
He would be out of action until the British GP. Team-mate Augusto Fernandez is a rookie, and while he has shown flashes of speed, his education in the class has been a slow process.
And so, KTM’s hopes of strong results have largely rested on Binder’s shoulders. In Thailand last weekend, while he was second on the road and just 0.114s off race winner Jorge Martin, the next-best KTM was Miller in 16th – some 17.5s adrift. Behind him came the Tech3 duo.
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Brad Binder, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
“I’m struggling a lot with this bike,” Pol Espargaro started. “I have the feeling also Augusto is struggling on the races and Jack today struggled a lot. I think Brad, somehow, if you put him on a Moto2 [bike] he is able to win races now in MotoGP because his level now is super high.
“I feel that I struggle a lot with these races where it’s hot. It makes it much more physical and physically I’m recovering still. I don’t feel ready for these extreme conditions. But especially I don’t feel comfortable on this bike with the changes that they do over all the year.
“When we are using these kinds of casing that are very hard, we lose the edge grip and I’m not able to ride the bike. I’m not able to be fast. I’m trying, but when I follow what the…