For KTM’s Brad Binder it will be ‘very interesting’ to see ‘what these 8-9 months of progress have done for us’.
The South African has tested an RC16 at Sepang in both 2020 and 2022, but the Covid cancellations for the past two years means he will be one of ten full-time riders making a Malaysian MotoGP race debut on Sunday.
“Yeah, I’ve been here twice for testing. No racing yet. So I’m quite excited to race,” Binder said. “It’s one of my favorite tracks on the calendar. I love riding here in Malaysia. It looks like we’ve got pretty good weather up until Saturday afternoon, so let’s try enjoy it while we can.
“All in all, I must say I’m quite excited to see how things go. In the test here we were nowhere near where we wanted to be, so it’s going to be very interesting to see what these 8-9 months of progress have done for us. I’m excited to see the differences and let’s see how we rack up this week.”
Explaining how the RC16 has changed since the test, Binder, currently sixth in the world championship but now just one point clear of Johann Zarco, added:
“The base is the same, but I think the one really big difference is the weight distribution and the springs and stuff that we run is completely different.
“When we were last here, it was very clear we couldn’t stop the bike and kept losing the front. So these changes were what fixed that and let see if they’ve fixed it here.”
The February test proved challenging for KTM in terms of best laps with Miguel Oliveira leading the way in 15th place and Binder 18th.
“The first day, which was good, and the second day we did I think like 10 laps in the morning and it started pouring with rain,” Binder said. “And I think my testing here in 2020 you can pretty much write off because things are so different now and I was still trying to figure out what I’m riding.
“I don’t want to really look too much into it, I just want to start from scratch and at least I’ve done a few laps here, so that always helps.”
VR46’s newly crowned rookie of the year, Marco Bezzecchi, is also curious to see how much he has improved.
“First of all I would like to see where I improved the most, the difference in my riding between the beginning and now,” said the young Italian, who like the other newcomers was eligible for both the Shakedown test and Official Sepang test.
“And then, to see if our job with the base setting is good. From the beginning of the season to now, will be interesting.”
Bezzecchi, who came close to repeating his Assen podium heroics at Phillip Island last weekend, also received the latest Ducati aero in Australia. He said it’s the only significant hardware update for his GP21 since Sepang.
“Just I received the front fairing in Australia, but all the rest is completely the same,” he confirmed.
“Now we have to see which one is better here. Because I think that the new fairing is good but maybe won’t have the same advantage that I felt in Phillip Island.”