Where KTM’s updated MotoGP bike still lacks compared to Ducati
Binder was given two of the new RC16s for the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi, following test rider Dani Pedrosa’s successful wildcard outing at Misano with the updated bike that signifies a shift away from KTM’s long-standing steel trellis frame philosophy.
The South African was immediately competitive, setting a new lap record in Friday practice and then emerging as Jorge Martin’s nearest challenger in the sprint race on Saturday, scoring his best result since August’s Red Bull Ring round in second.
Poor weather on Sunday and the time lost during the bike swaps in MotoGP’s first flag-to-flag race in two years prevented Binder from mounting a challenge in the main race at Motegi as he crashed out at Turn 3.
Reflecting on the sprint race battle against Pramac Ducati man Martin, Binder said he felt his soft rear tyre go off four laps in to the 12-lap contest, which prevented him from being able to exit the corners as quickly as his rival.
“For me it’s just when we started to drop a bit the rear tyre, I lost some turning, and then my pick-up was too late so I was losing a bit of the draft,” explained Binder.
“He [Martin] is very good at getting the bike turned and picked up. That’s one point I need to improve.
“It’s clearly a little bit better [mid-corner]. On the first crack of gas, I don’t push the tyre wear as easily, I can roll that little bit better and when I pick it up, I can try and draft.
“It works extremely well on a new tyre, but when it dropped, I could see some things we need to improve.”
Brad Binder, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Asked by Motorsport.com about the KTM’s performance in the wet after Sunday’s race, Binder replied: “It was exceptionally good on braking and entry. I was struggling a little on corner exit but not too bad.
“I felt like I was catching the guys in front of me [after losing time in the pits], but clearly I was pushing too hard.”
While confident of being able to find further gains on the carbon fibre chassis, Binder was reluctant to say that the new RC16 would be a bike capable of fighting consistently against benchmark manufacturer Ducati for the championship.
“It’s a small step in the direction we’ve been asking, for sure,” he underlined. “It’s not a massive, massive difference.
“It’s something small, but even a tenth or two makes a massive difference in the bigger picture. I think we have a good combination of small things working.”
Binder’s team-mate Jack Miller was also given one of the new RC16 frames at Motegi, finishing fourth in the sprint and sixth in the rain-shortened main race.