The penultimate round of a long MotoGP season and a relentless second phase of the campaign saw Brad Binder take his KTM RC16 to 5th position through the Qatari night air and at a glistening Lusail International Circuit. The South African pushed to the limit to rise as high as 3rd and then had to nurse his front tire to the top five. The second event of the final triple-header also saw Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jack Miller earn a creditable 9th on a difficult track for consistent grip and performance.
The immense lighting system, the remodeled infrastructure and presentation, the fast, flowing and challenging 5.4km, 16-corner layout, the desert setting and nighttime spectacle: very few events have the look, feel and character of the Qatar Grand Prix. Red Bull KTM already had a taste of the unique grip but high abrasion demands of the Lusail tarmac on Saturday but the 22 laps of the full Grand Prix on Sunday was another task.
Brad Binder and Jack Miller set off from 10th and 15th places on the grid and hopeful of mods for optimum performance throughout the 22-laps. It was Binder who was unsurprisingly higher up the order in the opening exchanges as Miller strived to regain places and mileage to near the top ten. Brad pushed and probed his way into 3rd and then valiantly tried to hold the slot as his front tire grip began to fade. He ended the race 5th and less than three seconds from the third step of the podium. Jack set some of his hottest pace of the weekend to close down riders and make moves up to 9th.
When the checkered flag waved, and fantastic LED displays started to flicker Binder’s 11 points further hammered home his 4th place for 2023 while Miller’s standing of 11th in the championship can still be converted into 9th. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing are likely to confirm 4th in the Teams standings while KTM hold 2nd in the Constructors contest.
The Circuito de Ricardo Tormo brings the 2023 season to a conclusion where KTM’s MotoGP adventure began with a wildcard appearance in 2016, where they celebrated their maiden podium in 2018 and where Binder achieved runner-up distinction in 2022. Valencia is once more the scene for the final Grand Prix of the year and the latest ever finale to the world championship. Round twenty takes place next weekend.
Brad Binder, 5th: “Today was actually really good. To walk away with a 5th and to fight for the podium was very positive. My rear tire was perfect but my front tire gave-up after about twelve laps in, from there I was just trying to survive. Probably one of the hardest races I had in terms of dealing with the limit. I just wanted to bring it home in a solid 5th. My team did a great job to get us in this position today because the weekend was much more tricky than we anticipated.”
Jack Miller, 9th: “My pace was decent and I finally made some passes to get ahead of the big group I had in front. I felt better than yesterday. Semi-positive end to what had been a difficult weekend. I’m looking forward to Valencia, one of my favorite tracks.”
Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM Team Manager: “We raced today! Brad was in the leading group and was there for many laps, until seven to go even though his feeling with front was not the best. He didn’t give up and finished 5th: still a good position considering how the weekend had been so far. We aren’t that happy but more satisfied than we were on Saturday. Jack had a very good race despite being stuck in traffic on the first corner. He recovered quite a lot of positions with good lap-times. Both riders were able to compete and fight back. We’ll gather as much information as we can from this weekend and go to Valencia.”
- From KTM Factory Racing