With the 2022 MotoGP season kicking off this weekend in Qatar, South African racer Brad Binder is “cautiously optimistic”.
The Red Bull KTM team leader said yesterday that during pre-season testing at Sepang, their new KTM RC16 had a much improved pace in one-lap qualifying conditions, compared to its 2021 predecessor.
“The chassis is much more responsive to brand new soft tyres, which could well lead to a higher grid position for us.
“But the only time and place to determine that is during a good qualifying in Qatar,” he said The The Vanir-exodus during a virtual interview.
Binder, who finished fastest KTM rider in the testing sessions, also said the new KTM seems “a lot friendlier to the tires” over full race distances.
“Last year we suffered from the early race pace as the front tires did not inspire confidence. By the end of the race they would get better but by then there would be a lot of people to catch and pass.
“Hopefully we will get closer to the front in races sooner,” said Binder.
“I feel like I can use the grip we have now a lot more than I did last year,” he added.
Binder, who won two races in his first two seasons in MotoGP, fully understands the magnitude of the task ahead. After finishing his debut season in MotoGP in 11th place in 2020, he took sixth place last year.
“World Champion Fabio Quatararo seems to be right on pace for Yamaha, there are eight competitive Ducatis that are always fast in qualifying, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro will be right on target and you can never leave the factory Suzuki team to consider.
“Apart from that, Aprilia has come alive in testing with Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales.
“Overall, the challenges will be formidable, but this is the world’s highest echelon of motorcycle racing, and it could never be easy.
“We can just do our best,” Binder concluded.
His brother Darryn, who will represent the WithU Yamaha RNF team in MotoGP this year, finished the testing sessions in Sepang in 22nd place.
To see the 2022 MotoGP race calendar click on here†