Brad Binder was again the standout performer as the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing MotoGP star rounded the 4.6km Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya to another Sprint top four result on Saturday. The South African ran at the front for all 12 laps at round eleven of twenty and the Gran Premi de Catalunya as teammate Jack Miller scored 16th. Moto3™ qualifying distinction was earned in fine fashion by Red Bull KTM Ajo‘s Deniz Öncü with 2nd spot.
A hectic second phase of the 2023 MotoGP calendar began with the second visit to a Spanish Grand Prix circuit this season, and the flow of the popular 14-corner Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was coated with cloudy skies. Red Bull KTM finally ended a busy pre-event promotional schedule with practice and qualification on Friday and where Brad Binder was consistently vying for the top five of the time sheets. Jack Miller worked on set-up to cope with the slick asphalt and produced an impressive lap to sit inside the top ten. His last flying lap attempt was scrubbed due to a yellow flag which left him in Q1 by just a few hundredths of a second.
Saturday across the tricky surface saw a cooler and greyer climate, and Miller was unlucky again to miss out from Q1 progression by 0.16 of a second. Binder was a missile through Q2 and was holding 2nd place until the final minutes. The lap-times shuffled down by only a few tenths and Brad ranked 9th by the end of the session – half a second from Pole.
12 circulations of the Catalan course lay in store for the Sprint and Jack’s race was hindered by near-contact into the first corner that sent him down the order. The Aussie spent the rest of the race trying to regain ground and finished the day in 16th. Binder meanwhile concentrated on the lead runners and was trying to shadow Maverick Viñales rear wheel for 3rd place. The South African came very close a few times but eventually took 4th.
24 laps of a Barcelona barnstormer will begin at 14.00 local time on Sunday.
Brad Binder, 9th in qualification, 4th in the Sprint: “I gave everything I had from lap one to the end and when the podium is that close then you dig that extra bit deeper but I had a lot of understeer and had to be careful not to mess it all up. It was a tricky race to manage because you get excited about the possibilities but you also need to stay calm and ride to the limit. I feel like we got everything from today and with just a couple of tweaks for tomorrow then we’ll be ready to try again.”
Jack Miller, 13th in qualification, 16th in the Sprint: “Quali was so-so. We were fast but we were towing other people today! Coming to the race I felt OK and my pace was not terrible. We found some more speed this morning. I had a good start but was smashed at Turn 1. I tried to settle in a groove but I’m struggling to find grip and also keep the corner speed at the moment. I’m using ‘rounder’ lines and that means I’m leaving myself open. Anyway, we trying to fix it between my style and the setting. We’re trying to understand what more we need for traction.”
Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager: “Difficult day but not too bad. Difficult because we struggled with the grip but also a good result from Brad who was in the leading group during the Sprint. We were a few tenths from the podium so we have to be happy with that. Jack was so close to making Q2 but we know the slipstream game here. He was hit on the first corner but also lacked some feeling with the front end so we know we need to work on it. We have to remember that Jack only has half a season with the RC16 so he is still understanding all the potential and the settings. No drama. We look ahead with confidence and we will be there for the longer race tomorrow.”
- From KTM Factory Racing