Brad Binder and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing did the unbelievable. In an unpredictable MotoGP race at the Monster Energy Czech Republic Grand Prix, the South African – in just his third premier class race – stormed to an emotional first win to become the first rookie since Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) to win in MotoGP.
Binder won by over five seconds to lead Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) over the line as the Italian picked up his first MotoGP rostrum, with polesitter Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) took a memorable podium place, despite taking a long lap penalty for an incident with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing).
As the lights went out at the Czech Adrenaline Factory, Zarco couldn’t get the GP19 hooked up off the line with his holeshot device as the Frenchman slipped backwards, with the two Petronas Yamaha SRT riders getting good launches.
Fabio Quartararo led into the first corner but was slightly wide, allowing Morbidelli to slip through and take the lead. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) also got away well from P4 to grab P3, which was soon P2 at Turn 4 as the Spaniard carved past the Championship leader, with the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing bikes of Pol Espargaro and Binder making a great start to sit 4th and 5th, with Zarco down to P6.
Binder was then a man on a mission. The South African cut through teammate Espargaro and then got by the latter’s brother on the Aprilia with ease, and soon he was right on the tailpipes of Quartararo.
The Frenchman was a second off Morbidelli as that gap stayed pretty consistent in the opening few laps, hovering between 1 and 1.3 seconds. Pol Espargaro was getting impatient behind Zarco after losing out to the poleman, but after a failed attempt the lap before, the number 44 was through at Turn 3 on Lap 6 and immediately set sights on his teammate and Quartararo, and the battle for second soon became a double factory KTM vs Quartararo fight.
Binder was then through on El Diablo on Lap 9. Turn 3 the chosen place, Binder was slightly wide but the rookie made it stick and, then, Pol Espargaro was through. However, the Spaniard was wide at Turn 13 and lost the place before huge drama then 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 as Espargaro swept back to get the run-up 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 out – heartbreak for the latter as Race Direction began to look at the incident, later handing Zarco a long lap penalty.
There may have been heartbreak for one orange bike, but up the road, Binder wasn’t showing any signs of slowing up. With Binder past Quartararo, another Petronas Yamaha bike was about to feel the wrath.
The 33 reeled in Morbidelli with ease and with nine laps left in Brno, Binder led a MotoGP race for the first time – but you wouldn’t have thought it. Immediately, Binder started to stride clear of Morbidelli and on the same lap, Zarco took the long lap penalty.
And the Frenchman couldn’t have nailed it better, some spectacular riding saw Zarco sweep round the outside of Turn 7 like his tyres were glued to the asphalt. An unreal and pinpoint piece of riding saw Zarco emerge just ahead of Quartararo as the latter clear hit tyre troubles at the mid-point, with Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) starting to hunt him in.
Upfront, all eyes were on someone who was quickly making a name for himself just two and a half races into his MotoGP career. Morbidelli simply had no answer to Binder’s ridiculous pace and South Africa’s new sporting hero was leaving his more experienced competitors in his wake. With seven laps to go the gap was up to a second and a couple of laps later, the lead was 2.1.
Meanwhile, the Championship leader was in a spot of bother. Rins – still riding injured by the way – was swarming and slid underneath the YZR-M1 rider at Turn 4 with five laps to go, with nine-time World Champion Rossi soon following suit on the same lap.
Quartararo quickly found himself lingering down in sixth, with Oliveira now smelling blood too. With four laps to go, Quartararo fell victim to Oliveira and at the front, Binder’s lead soon surpassed the three-second barrier as dreams started to turn into a reality for KTM.
Binder – barring a mistake – was in dreamland had this wrapped up. Morbidelli was safe in second but Zarco was far from safe in the final podium spot. Rins was hot on the heels of the Ducati and Zarco was clearly struggling with rear grip and with two to go, the gap was 0.6 between the GP19 and GSX-RR. That was soon nothing however, and Zarco had a nervous final lap coming up.
Binder had a nervous final lap coming up too, but for very different reasons. Binder’s lead was over four seconds and this was it for him and KTM. More than four years of tireless work from the Austrian factory were about to become worth it as a new MotoGP star was being born.
Binder made no such error and brought his RC-16 home to etch his name into premier class and KTM folklore.
Morbidelli brought his Yamaha home to secure a fantastic maiden MotoGP podium in second, the Italian had a special weekend in the Czech Republic and he now moves into P3 in the overall standings.
Back to the final podium place battle and Rins was looking menacing. However, Zarco was holding firm and did so brilliantly to secure his first premier podium since 2018 Malaysian GP.
It was a huge day for the Avintia team too, who achieve their first MotoGP podium thanks to Zarco on a year-old Ducati. Pole and a podium is something they could have only dreamed of when they landed in the Czech Republic.
The 2020 MotoGP World Championship will next move to Austria for the myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich (Austrian GP) at the Red Bull Ring – Spielberg on August 16, 2020, LIVE on Eurosport and Eurosport HD.
1. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
2. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 5.266
3. Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) + 6.470
4. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 6.609
5. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 7.517
6. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) + 7.969
7. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 11.827
8. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) + 12.862
9. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) + 15.013
10. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) + 15.087
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