If the race had been a lap longer it would have been a different story: Brad Binder after Austrian GP win

19 August 2021 - 17:50
By david isaacson AND David Isaacson
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Brad Binder in action.
Image: REUTERS/Borut Zivulovic Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Brad Binder in action.

Brad Binder says if he’d had to race one more lap in the rain on Sunday, the extra splash of wet might have washed out the tale of his gritty triumph at the Austrian grand prix.

Addressing a virtual press conference with SA media on Thursday afternoon, Binder said the timing of the rain, with three laps to go, played into his hands perfectly.

The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider rolled the dice by opting to stay on the track on his slicks instead of swapping for better grip.

“I could see the rain was coming and I just tried to pretty much work it out to the point  where if I would lose about 15 seconds a lap over the next three laps I would still be fine.

“It would still be faster than coming through pit lane, which takes about 40, 45 seconds,” he said. “I took the gamble, tried to stay out. It definitely came at the perfect time. I think if the race was one lap longer it would have been a very different story.”

The rain didn’t just affect his tyres, which instantly lost the little grip they’d given him before, but also the braking system. The carbon fibre brakes work at high temperatures, but not in cool conditions.

“The brakes cool down, it’s like someone swapping out your brake pads for ice cubes. It doesn’t really work too well.

“It was really a challenge,” he said, adding that his bike kept moving sideways coming out of the corners. “When I saw that chequered flag I was really grateful to have got to the end because I think in a situation like that, it can go either way.

“It can either go really well, like this weekend, or it can end in disaster and you land up in the gravel and that’s not much fun at all.”

Even with bad tyres, which didn’t give him the necessary grip in the dry, he still managed to work his way up the field to get into a position to attack when the rain came.

“From the first lap of the race I realised that something wasn’t right and I was really struggling with a lot of spinning coming out the corners and it wasn’t stopping either because the rear tyre didn’t have the contact that I needed.

“But when it started raining, it doesn’t matter what tyre you have.”

The victory ended a 12-month podium drought for Binder, who scooped his maiden MotoGP win just over a year ago.

“It’s been a long, long year without any podiums and no wins either. I’ve had a few fourth places and there’s nothing worse than just being off the podium ... I really hope that I can try to find some momentum from here on and keep building on it,” he said, adding he had changed his approach to racing midway through the season.

“I felt like I made a small step in the midseason break, the big thing being I was just trying a little bit too hard at the end of that first half of the season, and I felt I was putting a lot of pressure on myself and not really enjoying riding. Really trying too hard and wanting too much and that just made my life too difficult.

“I took a much more relaxed approach in the second half and the pace has been much better and I’ve been riding a lot better.”

But now he’s ready to compete at his best for the rest of the season, starting at Silverstone on August 29.

“My goal is to try to fight among the top three as often as possible and try to finish every race.”