Brad Binder takes thrilling win in Jerez Sprint Race
MotoGP landed at the sweltering Circuit de Jerez – Angel Nieto for one of the loudest, busiest and hottest European dates on the calendar and the fourth round of the current season. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing surged temperatures further as Brad Binder and Jack Miller dueled at the front of the field for Sprint victory and Binder spectacularly earned his second win of the year while Miller finished 3rd.
The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team showcased three riders for round four of the series and for the well-known narrow asphalt of the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto. The track offered a hot spring climate and saw a bumper crowd pack into the facility from Saturday morning. Turn 6 of the layout, named ‘Dani Pedrosa’, was rounded by the actual Red Bull KTM test rider who joined Brad Binder and Jack Miller for his second MotoGP wildcard outing since full-time retirement from racing at the end of 2018.
The squad got busy with their program that saw Binder and Miller (both previous winners at Jerez in multiple categories) located in Q2 positions on Friday. After the morning qualification Binder had to make it through Q1, but both racers defied tricky conditions in the wake of a brief rain shower to storm Q2. Miller momentarily held Pole Position and was only outdone in the final seconds by one rider. The Australian ranked 2nd and less than a tenth of a second faster than Binder who was 4th: the 2-4 combo representing KTM’s best team qualification effort.
Pedrosa grabbed the headlines with the fastest lap during Practice 1 on Friday morning. The Spaniard qualified 6th in Q2, meaning all three KTM RC16s onto the first two rows of the grid.
The 12-lap Sprint was a KTM spectacle. Miller and Binder disputed the lead and were rarely separated by more than half a second. Binder’s move into Turn 6 was enough to provide the break he needed for his second ’12 points’ of the term. Miller was passed by Francesco Bagnaia but still managed his first top three for the team in just his fourth GP. Pedrosa was forced off line in the opening corners of the chaotic exchange but then set a mean rhythm to stay in sight of the leading group and make sure of 6th.
MotoGP gets underway at the slightly delayed hour of 15.00 CEST and with a promising 25-lap frantic fare promised for Sunday.
Brad Binder, 4th in qualification, 1st in the Sprint:
“I knew starting from the second row we had good chance of being in the fight. I felt great today and it is so good to walk away this afternoon with another victory. Jack did a great job to pull us away at the beginning but I started to struggle with the front tire pressure increasing and I knew I needed to make a move when the front end was locking-up. It’s incredible to take another victory and I want to say thanks to my team, Dani and the test team and the whole of Red Bull KTM for giving us such an amazing and competitive package. Hopefully there is a lot more to come from us this season.”
Jack Miller, 2nd in qualification, 3rd in the Sprint:
“It was great for the team and everyone involved with Red Bull KTM to see both bikes fighting like this. It was really nice and we both enjoyed it a lot. Our bikes were sideways at times and it was a good show. Our bike is strong. We have amazing test riders who have done a fantastic job and helped us arrive to this point. An amazing team around us also that are helping us to do our best. I feel confident for tomorrow as well. The power is there, the Medium tire works well and I’m excited for 25 laps.”
Dani Pedrosa, 6th in qualification, 6th in the Sprint:
“My first ‘new’ Saturday and qualifying was hectic with the conditions but we finally had five minutes of clear and dry track. I was a bit cautious not to touch the white lines I perhaps could have been faster but the second row was fantastic, The Sprint was very aggressive because the riders tried to gain as many positions as fast as possible. I got pushed outside in Turn 1 and 2 a bit and then just tried to keep my rhythm. The bike’s behavior following others was quite different to what I am used to. The tires changed a lot in the race and we learned about that today but as a team we must be very happy with three bikes in the top six.”