Brad Binder signs for Tech3 MotoGP team
South African Brad Binder has signed for the Tech3 KTM MotoGP for next year, it has been officially announced. This comes after many rumours that he was in-line to do so, and further reports that he tested the KTM MotoGP machine at Brno, posting encouraging times and managing to not send the bike hurtling through the gravel trap, something over-excited first time MotoGP riders normally do.
Binder has been a long-time KTM man, having signed for the Ajo KTM Moto3 squad in 2015, winning the Moto3 title with them in 2016 and racing with their Moto2 team ever since. He also started his MotoGP career in the Red Bull KTM Rookies Cup.
The move to MotoGP seemed logical, given both his experience with the KTM steel-trellis chassis and their WP suspension, and that he is consistently the fastest KTM on track, having scored two podiums in the last two races despite handling woes.
The Tech3 team is also an encouraging start for Binder as they have a history of nurturing young riders who later move on to bigger things – examples of riders that have had success through the Tech3 route include Johann Zarco, Cal Crutchlow, Andrea Dovizioso and Pol Espargaro. He will be taking the place of Malaysian Hafizh Syahrin, who is expected to move back to Moto2, and will line up next to former teammate and friend Miguel Oliveira.
The KTM MotoGP project is still in its infancy, especially against the likes of Honda that have a near-60 year head start on them. Given KTM’s monetary input and history of success, especially in the likes of Dakar, motocross and AMA Supercross, it’s a fair bet that the project will grow and hopefully take Binder with them.
Binder’s entry into the premier class marks the first time a South African has been the class since Shane Norval raced on the ill-fated twin-cylinder Honda 500cc in 2000 and the first time a South African has ridden in the new four-stroke MotoGP era. It will be a challenge but an exciting one, no doubt.
“It is incredible to have this opportunity. I want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to KTM, Red Bull KTM Tech3, my manager and my family for helping me get to the premier class and to be able to give it a try. It is an amazing feeling right now and a dream come true. When you are growing up then this is what you aim for – to be in the MotoGP class with the best riders in the world with the best bikes – so it is a crazy feeling right now.”