Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder celebrates winning MotoGP race on the podium. (Reuters Photo)
BRNO (Czech Republic): Brad Binder created a series of firsts as he won the Czech MotoGP on Sunday, ahead of Italian Franco Morbidelli on Yamaha’s satellite SRT bike and Frenchman Johan Zarco on a Ducati-Avintia.
It was the 24-year-old Binder’s first MotoGP win in his third race, it was also a first victory at the elite level by a South African and for the KTM team.
“This was a day I dreamed about since I was a little boy and today it came true,” Binder said.
“My team put an absolutely insane motorbike underneath me this weekend. I had no idea we were capable of winning but I had a feeling it could be good.”
Frenchman Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha-SRT), winner of the first two rounds of the season and world championship leader, finished seventh to increase his lead in the riders’ standings to 17 points over Spaniard Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) who was only 14th in the GP.
With reigning champion Marc Marquez still absent nursing a broken arm, Binder followed Quartararo in grabbing his chance.
Binder was the first rookie MotoGP winner since Marquez in 2013 and he was followed home by two more surprising front-runners.
For Morbidelli it was a first podium finish.
“It was a nice race overall, I started well, I did what was in my plan, to make my rhythm and don’t overcook the tyres,” he said, adding that as Binder pulled clear he decided to play safe.
“I won’t do anything silly and try to bring the bike to the end and catch my first podium.”
Meanwhile Zarco held on to third despite disintegrating tyres and a penalty imposed for a collision with Pol Esparago which put the Spanish KTM man out of the race.
“He went wide. I was in, keeping the line and when we touch,” said Zarco. “I did not expect it and I think that he crashed.”
The officials judged the Frenchman was at fault and he had to ride a ‘long lap’ which meant following an outside lane on the big seventh turn.
“When I did the long lap, I expected three riders to overtake me. No one overtook and at that moment, I said, OK that can be good,” Zarco said.
While it was Zarco’s seventh podium it was a first for Ducati-Avinti the team he joined after he struggled with KTM last season before leaving in mid season.