On yer bike: Brad Binder

FMM Curator Wayne Harley salutes South Africa’s latest motorcycling hero…

After a completely upside-down and confusing year with COVID-19, it is great to be able to celebrate SA’s latest motorcycling hero, Brad Binder – the 2016 Moto3 World Champion has done us proud again in 2020. In his first season in the MotoGP premier category, Brad has been crowned the MotoGP Rookie of the Year. This comes after a really exciting series which saw World Champion Marc Márques go out in the first race of the season due to a very bad fall and subsequent long-term injury. Márques’ absence left the championship wide open to a number of role players, and a number of brands. We saw nearly all of the teams taking a win – KTM, Ducati, Yamaha and Suzuki, the latter going on to be crowned World Champions at the end of the season. The only brand that did not chalk up a victory was Aprilia.

On top of that we also had so many different riders standing on the top step. Fabio Quartararo, our own Brad Binder (who won the Czech Republic MotoGP), Andrea Dovizioso, Miguel Oliviera, Franco Morbidelli, Maverick Viñales, Danielo Petrucci, Joan Mir all saw the chequered flag at least once. This just shows how great a season 2020 has been for Moto GP! On top of this, Binder also took fastest laps in the Czech Republic MotoGP as well as the European Motorcycling GP, which is no mean feat for someone in his rookie season!

So who is Brad Binder?  Brad is a natural talent who has motor sport in his blood.  Born in 1995 in Potchefstroom, Brad started off in karts, and was soon National Champion in his category. His hunger for more success led him to two wheels at the age of 10, and since then has reeled in title after title. By 2009 his talent was noticed overseas and he was invited to go racing for Red Bull in the MotoGP Rookie’s Cup. In the following year Brad took three Rookie podiums and finished fifth overall.  This natural talent led to him being offered a substitute ride in the 125 GP Series in 2011. Brad so impressed the RW Racing GP team that the following year they invited him to race for them in the full Moto3 Championship.

Over the next four years Brad slowly crawled up in overall finishing positions and reached the podium on a number of occasions.  In 2016 he was with the AJO team with whom he scored his first victory, at Jerez.  This victory gave Brad the confidence he needed to dominate the season, taking four more wins, and by the time they raced at the Aragonese venue in Spain, it was a mathematical conclusion that Brad would be the World Champion.  However, Brad, in the full spirit of a Moto racer and with true South African guts, still laid it on the line to finish second before being crowned 2016 Moto3 World Champion.

In 2017 he was offered a position in the Moto2 AJO Motorsport team and campaigned for them for a further two years. Then at the beginning of this year, Brad was offered a factory ride for the Red Bull KTM team – an opportunity he grasped with both hands. And in characteristic Brad Binder style, he won the Rookie of the Year title and became only the third South African to have won a motorcycle Grand Prix World Championship race, joining local legends Jon Ekerold and Kork Ballington.

Based on his successes so far, it would be no surprise that within the next 2-3 years to see Brad Binder being crowned the MotoGP World Champion.