KTM’s Brad Binder consistently spread his MotoGP wings in 2023

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing South African rider Brad Binder reacts after winning his second place at the MotoGP Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring racetrack in Spielberg bei Knittelfeld, Austria, on August 20, 2023. (Photo by Jure Makovec / AFP)

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing South African rider Brad Binder reacts after winning his second place at the MotoGP Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring racetrack in Spielberg bei Knittelfeld, Austria, on August 20, 2023. (Photo by Jure Makovec / AFP)

Published Dec 16, 2023


Brad Binder didn’t make the headlines as much as he should have or would have wanted to this year. Consistency, you see, just isn’t sexy enough.

And that is a real pity, because the South African rider did the country proud in 2023 in MotoGP, finishing fourth in the world riders’ championship – his highest position yet. He collected five podiums, with his highest finish two second places at the Spanish and Austrian GPS, and collected two sprint race wins.

But it was his consistency that ensured his high standing and the growing admiration of his craft. Binder scored in 15 of the 20 events this year – a remarkable achievement as he collected 293 points, which also helped his team – Red Bull KTM – to finish second in the constructors’ championship.

His performances ensured an extension of his contract with the team until the end of the 2026 season. It points to an intriguing 2024, which could see the 28-year-old receiving the adoration he so richly deserves.

“Binder,” as the team’s motorsport director Pit Beirer declared earlier this month, “has everything a winning rider needs at the moment.”

Nevertheless, Ducati ruled the season. The Italian motorbike manufacturer

placed a winning rider on 17 of the 20 podiums this year, with only Alex Espargaro of Aprilia and Honda’s Alex Rins combining to win the remaining three.

Francesco Bagnaia, meanwhile, successfully defended his championship – with the Ducati factory team, of course – in a thrilling duel with Jorge Martin and his Ducati-powered Prima Pramac Racing team. Their battle lasted until the season-ending Valencia Grand Prix, when it all fell apart for the Spaniard.

Binder finished a courageous second in that race but a few weeks later celebrated a much more significant occasion when he tied the knot and married his long-time girlfriend, Courtney Renniers, in Stellenbosch.

Elsewhere, the same thrilling conclusion eluded the Formula One season, with Max Vertsappen officially winning the drivers’ championship at the 17th stop on the calendar in Qatar, where he won the sprint and finished second on race day.

The title, however, had been decided way before that, such was the imperious and ominous form of the Dutch rider and his Red Bull team.

Indeed, in the 22 races in 2023, Red Bull won a staggering 21 GPS, with only the lone victory of Carlo Sainz in Singapore spoiling a perfect season. The 28-year-old Verstappen won an outrageous 19 races to set a new record, with teammate Sergio Perez completing the rout by claiming the top step of the podium on the other two occasions – a record 95.4% win percentage.

Verstappen was also on every podium, except for Singapore. He led a staggering 1 003 laps and compiled the most pole-to-flag victories (12), the most consecutive victories from pole (16), and the most consecutive races as championship leader (39). Red Bull won the first 14 races of the season, but in all honesty it was clear as early as the season-opening Bahrain GP in early March that no one was going to overtake them.

Mclaren were arguably their closest rivals in terms of pace as the season came to a close, but a horrible start to the year ruined any chance of a better finish.

Their MLC60 was a rocketship with the aerodynamics of a house and held together by duct tape when the season started, and they paid dearly for it.

Ferrari continued to flail about, much to the irritation and despair of the Tifosi, but showed some signs of improvement as the season came to a close. They remain miles behind Red Bull, however, while their reliability, consistency, and race strategy this year remained erratic at best.

It was also a frustrating 2023 for former champion Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.

The 38-year-old has lost his golden boy status at the team, with that title reportedly conferred onto his much younger teammate George Russell.

The Silver Arrows won no races. They had a particularly bad start to the year but managed to claim a handful of podiums to finish second in the constructors’ championship.

There are reports of disquiet within the team, as well, with Hamilton believed to be unhappy with the current direction and backing of Russell.

The biggest surprise of this year was Fernado Alonso and his Aston Martin. The 42-year-old Spanish Matador roared to early podiums, much to the glee of onlookers. He secured eight of them, proving that age is just a number.

It was a delight to watch, and helped break the monotony of a predicatible season. In short, 2023 was a procession and there is very little indication that Red Bull’s dominance won’t extend into 2024 as well.


IOL Sport

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