As the Red Bull KTM Ajo team celebrates their second Moto3 title, following on from Sandro Cortese’s win in 2012, for KTM it is their third in the championship.
“Today we lost the battle but we won the war,” an emotional Brad Binder commented in the finish area. He had hoped to go out with a win but had to settle for second place behind Jorge Navarro.
Binder went to Aragon with a strong change of taking the title. He had a 106-point lead and knew he needed to finish the race with a 100-point advantage to get the job done. He needed either a win or a second place on his KTM RC 250 GP, and after that there was a baffling list of point possibilities that would still let him win the prize.
There was a lot at stake for the Italian Bastianini who was the only rider with a chance of spoiling Binder’s party. He fought hard all the way but also admitted in the finish area that the South African had been faster on the day. Binder leaves Aragon as he arrived, 106 point ahead and with now four races and 100 points still up for grabs. Navarro’s win bumps him up to second in the rankings, and KTM riders Joan Mir and Nicolo Bulega are currently 4-5.
Brad Binder: “Right now it doesn’t feel real yet. The race was tough. It came down to the final lap. I knew where I had to be and I gave it a try but I was so terrible in the last corner.”
Binder, Bastianini and Navarro were the major players throughout the 20-lap race on the Spanish circuit, and it quickly developed into a battle of wits, race craft and guts. Bastianini was determined to extend his chances of closing the gap, and Navarro, who has had a difficult season with injury, was equally determined to take the race win and put himself back in contention. These three riders exchanged the lead during the first half of the race, joined by KTM rider Philipp Oettl in laps 7,8 and 9.
Binder rebounded in lap 16 and swept from fourth into the lead. He was again forced wide in lap 18 and dropped back to fourth, which put him one point away from the title. Then, going into the final lap there was virtually nothing separating the top four riders, Bastianini, Binder, Navarro and Italian Fabio Di Giannantonio. Navarro hit the front with four corners to go and in the closing stages Binder slipped into second and the title was his.
The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider thus makes history in Grand Prix racing, becoming the first South African to win a title since Jon Ekerold in 1980 and the fastest crowned World Champion since 2005.
The South African has stood out for his consistency in podium finishes, claiming 5 wins and a further 6 rostrums from 14 races. His biggest achievement of the season came at the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez, where he made his way up from 35th and last on the grid to take the first win of his career. At 21 years of age, five years after his first appearance in the World Championship Brad Binder etches his name into racing history before he steps up in the team up to join KTM’s new formed Moto2 project.
Standings Moto3 2016 after 14 of 18 rounds
1. Binder, 249 points (2016 Moto3 World Champion)
2. Navarro, 143
3. Bastianini, 139
4. Mir, 117
5. Bulega, 113
8. Romano Fenati (ITA), KTM, 93
11. Locatelli, 65
12. Oettl, 62
15. Quartararo, 56
17. Bendsneyder, 53
20. Migno, 47
21. Guevara, 40
24. Rodrigo, 22
27. Dalla Porta, 7