Binder thought he was ‘finished a couple of times’ on final lap

Brad Binder

Austrian MotoGP winner Brad Binder thought he was “finished a couple of times” as he struggled to stay upright on slicks on a rainy final lap.

Drops of rain over the Red Bull Ring finally became heavy enough to prompt riders to start pitting for their wet weather bikes from five laps to go.

The leading quintet persisted until three laps remained, at which point Marc Marquez, Francesco Bagnaia, Jorge Martin, Fabio Quartararo, and Joan Mir peeled off.

Binder, on the other hand, jumped from sixth to the lead when he decided to roll the dice by staying out on slicks, and would be rewarded with a victory of almost 10 seconds.

It was an extremely nervous close to the grand prix for the Red Bull KTM rider, who could barely pull up his RC16 in several places.

As he started the final lap, Binder also knew not whether the rider in second position was on wets or slicks but, happily for him, the first of the former group at the time was Bagnaia in 10th.

Still, the South African had to deal with front brakes which had cooled out to the point of being useless, but managed to avoid crashing and take his second win in the premier class.

“For me, there’s not much to say; it was a disaster,” he said of his final lap.

“I came across and saw ‘+9’ on my board, so plus nine, I knew, ‘Okay, it’s 10 seconds, more or less,’ but is it someone on wets or slicks? Because if it was someone on wets, they would have caught me; someone on slicks, OK, maybe not.

“But I just tried my absolute best, I just tried to make sure I stopped, got around the corner, and just went flat-out up the straight, and just to stay on-track for the last lap was virtually impossible.

“I thought it was finished a couple of times because, in Turn 3, I wasn’t stopping, and the only thing that was working was my rear brake.

“So, I was pushing my rear brake and the thing was sideways and I touched the steering lock and it went straight a little bit but managed to stop and stay on the track.

“So, after that, in these long right-handers, you don’t go forward, it’s just you’re staying in the same spot.

“I was waiting for someone to come flying past me, but the feeling when I saw the flag was a feeling of relief that it was over, and on the other hand I couldn’t believe that we had won today.”

Binder had spent much of the 28-lap race towards the back end of the top 10, although he caught up to the leading group of five after the rain flags were unfurled for a second time, with just over half a dozen laps to go.

Once he saw everyone else in front of him retreating to pit lane for wets, he knew he “had to try” to persevere on slicks and see what would happen.

“I was having a horrendous race before I decided to stay out and everyone else decided to come in,” recounted the 2016 Moto3 champion.

“The rear tyre was like nothing I’ve had all week, so every time I tried to brake, it would just slide everywhere. I’d go for the throttle and I wouldn’t go forward, so I was having a huge struggle out there.

“When I saw it starting to rain, I closed up onto the front group, and I was thinking, ‘There’s four laps to go,’ and I could see the guys were getting ready to come in because I saw Marc look behind him.

“I couldn’t decide, ‘Do I go in? Do I not?’ and then I just decided at the last moment when I saw the whole group pull into the pits that I had to try.

“The first lap was good, and then the last two were something else. I got around more or less okay, two laps to go.

“The last lap, the brakes went completely went completely cold and so did the tyres, so I couldn’t stop.

“Whenever I needed to stop, literally I would just felt like rolling, because no matter how hard I pulled the lever, nothing was happening, and I really struggled to stay on track.

“But yeah anyway, sometimes you’ve got to take the gamble and today it worked, so, super happy about that.”

Binder was in fact penalised three seconds post-race for exceeding track limits, but had taken the chequered flag 12.991s clear of Bagnaia.

His win capped off a big day for KTM, with Raul Fernandez prevailing in Moto2 and Sergio Garcia taking out the Moto3 race on a GasGas bike, one of the Austrian group’s other marques.

Garcia did so by passing Deniz Oncu, on a factory-backed Tech3 KTM, at the penultimate corner, while championship-leading KTM Ajo rider Pedro Acosta finished fourth.

Round 12 of the season is the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on August 27-29.

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