Courtesy of KTM Racing
Moto3 World Champion, Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder on Sunday finished a very close second on Japan’s Motegi circuit to cross the line 0.017 seconds behind Enea Bastianini of Italy, currently second in the standings. To the delight of the home crowd, Japan’s Hiroki Ono took the minor podium place.
Brad Binder, who wrapped up the 2016 title in the last round at Aragon, Spain with four races still in hand started from second on the grid and moved into the lead early in the second lap. He managed to distance himself from a tight group of six riders mid race on his KTM RC 250 GP but Bastianini closed him down and made his move too close to the finish line for Binder to respond. The South African admitted later he had struggled with grip in the closing laps.
Binder: “By the time we got to eight laps to go I started to struggle more than ever. I really struggled to get the grip in the corners. Every time it would spin a lot and I wouldn’t get the drive. Moto3 is always a group fight. I try to train myself to just do my own laps and it was almost a perfect race right up until the end.”
Italian KTM rider Andrea Migno had picked up a career first pole position and stayed with the lead group and fighting for a podium for the majority of the race but took himself out of contention with a crash in the final lap. He was eventually qualified at 25th.
Migno’s teammate Nicolo Bulega (KTM) was also a contender for much of the race. He was fifth on the grid but dropped back after the start when three riders went down in turn two. He was back fighting in the top six by the sixth lap and he and Ono moved up the order after Migno’s exit a couple of corners from the finish.
Philipp Oettl of Germany fought hard on his KTM to latch onto the leading group of six riders and finally managed to do so with just two laps to go. He went on to finish fifth, also benefiting from Migno’s departure from the race. French rider Fabio Quartararo and Spain’s Joan Mir finished 9-10 to give KTM riders five of the top 10 slots.
It was a difficult race for Binder’s teammate Bo Bendsneyder (NED) who, along with Spanish rider Maria Herrera (KTM), picked up a jump-start penalty. Both had to ride through the pits in the early part of the race.
The competition resumes in one week’s time on Australia’s Phillip Island circuit and with the title already safely in Binder’s pocket, Bastianini will be hoping to consolidate his second place in the standings. His job may have been made easier in Japan as his closest rival Jorge Navarro crashed out in Lap 11 and dislocated his shoulder.
Next Race: October 23, 2016 – Phillip Island (AUS)
Results Moto3 Motegi 2016
1. Enea Bastianini (ITA), Honda, 39:24.273 min (20 laps)
2. Brad Binder (RSA), KTM, +0.017 sec
3. Hiroki Ono (Jap), Honda, +2.654
4. Nicolo Bulega (ITA), KTM, +4.002
5. Philipp Oettl (GER), KTM, +5.119
9. Fabio Quartararo (FRA), KTM, +8.344
10. Joan Mir (ESP), KTM, +9.037
12. Lorenzo Dalla Porta (ITA), KTM, +12.332
19. Bo Bendsneyder (NED), KTM, +39.950
24. Maria Herrera (ESP), KTM, +52.570
25. Andrea Migno (ITA), KTM, +1:16.774 min
26. Juanfran Guevara (ESP), KTM, +1:22.102
DNF Andrea Locatelli (ITA), KTM
DNF Gabriel Rodrigo (ARG), KTM
Standings Moto3 2016 after 16 of 18 rounds
1. Binder, 269 points
2. Bastianini, 164
3. Jorge Navarro (ESP) Honda, 143
4. Bulega, 126
5. Mir, 123
8. Romano Fenati (ITA), KTM, 93
11. Oettl, 73
12. Locatelli, 65
13. Quartararo, 63
17. Bendsneyder, 53
20. Migno, 47
23. Guevara, 40
24. Rodrigo, 22
27. Dalla Porta, 11
29. Herrera, 6