Brad Binder 5th in #AmericasGP Sprint Race, Jack Miller 9th
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing scorched the asphalt at the Circuit of the Americas as Brad Binder dashed to 5th position in Texas on Saturday. The third MotoGP Sprint of the season whet the appetite for the Grand Prix on Sunday and while Binder was top five, Jack Miller captured 9th. Both riders started from decent grid positions of 10th and 11th after morning qualification.
Warm and humid conditions opened the second day of the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas and the tenth visit by the world championship to the sprawling and challenging track south of Austin. Decent work on Friday in both Practice 1 and 2 sessions meant both Brad Binder and Jack Miller found times in the top ten of the standings and achieved direct Q2 entry for Saturday. This helped provide a platform to increase the competitiveness of the RC16 set-up, conserve tire allocation and guarantee slots on the first rows of the grid.
During the decisive Q2 session Miller was hunting the fringes of the top five until small slips at the low-speed Turn 1 and 14 on two separate occasions foiled his attempt to be further forward. He rested in 10th and was just two tenths of a second ahead of Binder in 11th. The track’s grip level had lowered after some overnight rain and the conditions were tricky to judge for the 10-lap Tissot Sprint.
Despite a hair-raising first lap with a few ‘moments’, Binder diligently applied his pace and racecraft to the affair and worked his way up to a decent 5th position. Only a few places and seconds behind was Miller, in 9th. The team plan to use the data from the Sprint to analyze and reset for optimum performance in the 20-lap Grand Prix tomorrow; that begins after the Moto3 and Moto2 races and is set for 21.00 CET.
“Today was difficult. The conditions were different to what we have had so far this weekend and the grip level changed a lot. The first lap was sketchy and I struggled to roll around the corners. I lost a lot of time because of that but once I had my bearings I could move forward. It was a hard race today but hats-off to the team and my guys because we have made a big step from last year where we would have dreamed of being 5th. We need that last step for tomorrow and I think it will be a different story with that full race distance…but it should work in our favor.”
“It was a struggle during the first three quarters of the race. I was searching for drive out of the corners. I was getting a lot of spin and the track had changed overnight with the rain and it threw the balance of the bike. We made a step in the right direction but we need to find a bit more for tomorrow. We had to play a patient game with the front tire as the temperature just rocketed. We have a great package but we just need to dial-it-in and get it near perfect because we almost had it yesterday.”