Brad Binder: cheating death and making MotoGP history

The South African was just behind Johann Zarko’s Ducati when he collided with Franco Morbidelli’s Yamaha as the riders were racing at full throttle. Zarco and Morbidelli were sent flying while their motorcycles continued on their way, becoming potentially lethal projectiles.

“Honestly, I prefer not to even think about it,” he admits. “You know that bikes are probably still going over 200 km/h and a 185 kg motorcycle is flying at about 200 km/h and if it hits someone I think we all know what that is. may end.”

Remarkably, both Zarco and Morbidelli were able to walk away from the incident, although the Ducati rider has since spoken about it. Team that this week he will have surgery for a broken wrist.

Binder says there are always risks associated with racing.

“This is a danger that everyone knows about, which we just try to keep in the back of our minds and not think about it. Unfortunately, the only way to get the job done is to approach things that way. risks and things that can happen, I don’t think you could make a living from this job.”

Maverick Viñales narrowly missed a flying bike.

rollercoaster week

Binder finished fourth after the red flag race was eventually restarted, an impressive feat from 17th on the grid. It was the end of a roller coaster week for the man, who was born in Potchefstroom, in the North West Province of South Africa.

Just seven days prior, Binder had become the first South African to win a premier class race at the Czech Grand Prix in Brno, taking part in only his third MotoGP.

The win also marked KTM’s first MotoGP victory, with Binder becoming the first rookie to win a race since Marc Marquez’s first win at the 2013 American Grand Prix.

“It was just fantastic,” he says. “I don’t think we expected it so soon, especially in my third Grand Prix. To be honest, it was a dream come true, something that you have been working towards your entire career as a motorcycle racer.”

Brad Binder says he doesn't like to think about the damage the accident could have done.

Rugby and cricket

Binder and his family moved to Krugersdorp, near Johannesburg, when he was 10 years old. He acknowledges that motorsport is not usually associated with South Africa.

“Of course when you think of sports and South Africa you think of rugby or cricket or something like that,” he said.

“When I was younger and started racing in South Africa, there was a lot more work, there was a lot of racing and there was a lot of support, but everything faded a little, but gradually comes back.”

The rookie’s success was well received at home.

“It’s really cool because the news really blew up at home,” he says. “I have to say that South Africans are always great to support anyone in sports, especially their own, so it was great to see all the support I got.”

Binder says he loves getting support from his native South Africa.

homesickness

Covid-19 has become an additional challenge for Binder and his younger brother Darrin, who competes in the Moto3 class.

“It’s very difficult right now because South Africa’s borders are closed,” Binder explains.

“It is almost impossible for us to return home. After the race this weekend we have two weeks off and it would be great to shoot home, hang out with friends and family for a week and come back. But, unfortunately, that’s the way things are. for now, we’ll just stay here.”

He admits that he misses home a little.

“South Africa is an amazing place, that’s for sure. The main thing in South Africa, I don’t know how to explain it, it’s just a house, you know? This is where I go and I know exactly how everything works.

“It’s amazing to go back and visit the places where I grew up and see all your friends and everything that I’ve been doing all my life. All this. Hopefully everything will be back to normal soon.”

However, life on the road is nothing new for the Binder brothers.

“We both spend most of our time in Europe and have been doing it together since 2014,” he says.

The elder Binder has been racing in Europe since 2011, winning the Moto3 title in 2016 and finishing second to Alex Marquez in last year’s Moto2 championship.

When not competing, he can often be seen in Spain honing his skills.

“The good thing about Spain is that there are a lot of different tracks here and it’s really good for training,” he added.

“The weather is good too. Spain is a place where I always try to go back if I can’t go home.”

Johann Zarco checks on Franco Morbidelli after the accident.

Another beast

Despite his nine years of racing experience, Binder admits the transition to MotoGP was intimidating.

“A MotoGP bike is a completely different beast compared to a Moto2 bike, you have more than double the horsepower and the bike is actually even lighter so it’s really hard to understand at first. Every time I get on a motorcycle, I feel more comfortable,” he said.

This year, KTM looks like a formidable contender and a serious contender for other factory teams. The arrival of Dani Pedrosa, Marc Marquez’s former Honda teammate, as a test driver reputedly turned the team into contenders.

“I actually rode the 2019 bike late last year,” says Binder. “When I got on the 2020 bike in Malaysia, you could feel that this is a huge step forward, much, much better and much easier to handle. KTM worked hard, Dani worked incredible too.”

Ominously to the rest of the field, Binder believes the upward trajectory is continuing.

“It’s great to see these huge steps forward and overall I think there’s more to come,” he added.

At a frightening moment, motorcycles were flying along the track.

For now, the exiled Binder is focused on building on his early success in this strangest of MotoGP seasons.

A return visit home is definitely welcome, but he admits he’s leaving a bit of a taste of South Africa with him.

“I try to keep some biltong with me, but it’s not always easy to find!”