Red Bull KTM Factory Racing did it. Brad Binder did it. In an incredibly unpredictable MotoGP race at the Monster Energy Czech Republic Grand Prix, the South African stormed to an emotional first victory – in only his third race in the premier class – and became the first rookie to win MotoGP since Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) . Binder won by over five seconds and led Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) over the finish line when the Italian took his first MotoGP podium with pole sitter Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) – despite a long lap penalty for an incident with Pol Espargaro ( Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) – a memorable podium. Wow just wow.
When the lights went out in the Czech adrenaline factory, Zarco couldn’t get the GP19 off the line with his holeshot machine when the Frenchman slipped backwards and the two Petronas Yamaha SRT riders got off to a good start. Fabio Quartararo led into the first corner, but was slightly off, allowing Morbidelli to slip through and take the lead. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) also got off P4 well to take P3, which was soon P2 at Turn 4, as the Spaniard drove past the championship leader, with Pol Espargaro and Binder’s Red Bull KTM Factory Racing bikes a great one Performed Start sitting in 4th and 5th place while Zarco has dropped back to P6.
Binder was a man on a mission at the time. The South African cut through teammates Espargaro and then easily passed his brother on the Aprilia, and soon he was right on Quartararo’s tailpipes. The Frenchman was a second behind Morbidelli as this gap remained fairly constant over the first few laps, fluctuating between 1 and 1.3 seconds. Pol Espargaro got impatient behind Zarco after losing to the Poleman, but after a failed attempt on the previous lap, the number 44 was through turn 3 on lap 6, immediately targeting his teammate and Quartararo, and the battle for the second place soon turned into a double fight between KTM and Quartararo.
Binder was then through on lap 9 at El Diablo. Turn 3 was the chosen place, Binder was a bit far, but the rookie let it go and then Pol Espargaro was through. However, the Spaniard was far away at Turn 13 and lost the place before a major drama unfolded at Turn 1 on lap 10.
Espargaro was wide at Turn 1, but not by much. Zarco, just behind, was on the inside line and when Espargaro returned to make the run through Turn 2, there was contact between the two. Zarco’s front wheel came in contact with Espargaro’s body and the KTM man was outside – the latter hurt when race management started looking at the incident and Zarco later gave Zarco a long lap penalty. How expensive could that be for Zarco?
There may have been heartbreak for an orange bike, but on the road, Binder showed no signs of slowing down. After Binder left Quartararo behind, another Petronas Yamaha bike threatened to feel the wrath. The 33 wound up in Morbidelli sovereignly and with nine laps to go in Brno, Binder led a MotoGP race for the first time – but you wouldn’t have thought that. Binder immediately began to overtake Morbidelli and on the same lap Zarco took the long lap penalty. And the French couldn’t have done it better, on a spectacular drive Zarco drove around the outside of Turn 7 as if his tires were stuck to the asphalt. An unreal and precise drive resulted in Zarco showing up just before Quartararo, when the latter clearly hit tire problems in the middle, with Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) starts chasing him.
In the run-up, all eyes were on someone who quickly made a name for himself after only two and a half races of his MotoGP career. Morbidelli simply had no answer to Binder’s ridiculous pace, and South Africa’s new sporting hero left its more experienced competitors behind. With seven laps to go the gap was up to a second and a few laps later the lead was 2.1. Was that really for KTM?
The World Cup leader was meanwhile in trouble. Rins – still injured, by the way – swarmed and slipped under the YZR-M1 drivers at Turn 4 with five laps to go, and nine-time World Champion Rossi soon followed on the same lap. Quartararo quickly fell behind in sixth place, and Oliveira smelled blood, too. With four laps to go, Quartararo Oliveira fell victim to the lead and Binder’s lead soon exceeded the three-second mark when dreams came true for KTM.
Then two more go. Binder was – apart from one mistake – in Dreamland, had done this. Morbidelli was safe in second place, but Zarco was far from sure on the final podium. Rins was hot on the heels of the Ducati and Zarco clearly had problems with the rear wheel grip and with two to go the gap between the GP19 and the GSX-RR was 0.6. But that was soon nothing more and Zarco was facing a nervous final lap.
Binder also faced a nervous final round, but for completely different reasons. Binder’s lead was over four seconds and that was it for him and KTM. More than four years of tireless work from the Austrian factory should pay off when a new MotoGP star was born. Binder didn’t make such a mistake and brought home his RC-16 to put his name in the premier class and KTM folklore. Childhood dreams come true across the board. KTM has come to the party, Brad Binder has come to the party when MotoGP is delivering the goods again. Morbidelli brought his Yamaha home to finish second to secure a fantastic first MotoGP podium. The Italian had a special weekend in the Czech Republic and is now moving up to P3 in the overall standings.
Back to the last podium match and Rins looked ominous. However, Zarco held out and with flying colors secured his first podium since the 2018 Malaysia GP. It was also a great day for the Avintia team, which thanks to Zarco, achieved their first MotoGP podium on a year-old Ducati. They could only dream of pole and podium when they landed in the Czech Republic.
A big shout-out has to go to Rins too. The fourth place in Brno after a shoulder dislocation fracture at the GP of Spain is already remarkable. Close to the Suzuki man was Rossi, who climbed from a P10 grid position to P5 in another great drive for The Doctor. Quartararo will not be too pleased to have finished in 7th position 11 seconds before the win, but it is still valuable points in the title race.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) finished one second behind Quartararo in P8, two seconds ahead of Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), who left Aleix Espargaro behind in P9 on the final lap. Miller ended the day as the leading GP20 rider, just over a second ahead of Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) as the pair saved P9 and P11 from starting positions P14 and P18. Espargaro’s P10 was his first finish in 2020 – important for the Spaniard and the team. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) in twelfth place gives the Bologna plant a lot to think about when it comes to a one-two in Austria, hoping to keep its 100 percent record intact at the Red Bull Ring.
LCR Honda Castrol’s Cal Crutchlow finished 13th in Brno as he continues to suffer from a left scaphoid bone injury, and nine tenths behind him, Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) has just two points in 14th. The Spaniard will go back to the drawing board to find out what happened at the Czech GP as he loses valuable ground in the championship – 17 points behind Quartararo now. Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) is 15th to continue his record of at least one point in his first three MotoGP races.
Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech3) lost the lead and picked up Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in the early stages when the duo fell out of the race.
A new star is born in MotoGP when Binder and KTM drive to the home race of the plant in Austria to a double victory. This means that Binder is only three points behind Dovizioso in the overall standings; the man who took part in three premier class races also sits in front of Rossi and Miller. Quartararo extends its lead in the championship despite seventh place, no end of the world for the French. And best of all, we’ll do it all over again in less than a week.