We continue our countdown of Crash.net’s 2020 MotoGP Rider of the Year Top 10 countdown with star rookie Brad Binder earning his spot on the strength of one very special – and unforgettable – race.
MotoGP wasn’t exactly short of unexpected moments in 2020 but Brad Binder’s victory in Brno, the first for KTM in only his third premier class start, surely ranks as one of the longest-odd predictions to pay out in the history of the series.
To this day the man himself (exclusive interview coming here very soon) hasn’t quite figured out how he managed to not only win the Czech MotoGP but do so with relative ease with a team that prior to that day had achieved just a single podium in four seasons.
It all means Binder rightfully earns his place in our Top 10 here even if there are certainly improvements to be made when he resumes for what should be his first full season of MotoGP in 2021.
A product of KTM’s development programme, 2020 proved quite the learning curve, albeit one peppered with some extraordinary reward.
Already promoted to the Factory team early by virtue of him getting the nod to replace Johann Zarco having originally been lined up with Tech 3, Binder did a fine job of adapting to the rigours of his new, faster and more aggressive steed but given KTM’s steady rate of progress coupled to his inexperience, targets were fairly modest coming into an already stressful year.
There were certainly flashes of speed from the opening rounds in Jerez, if a touch error-prone – a fixture of his season as a whole – but in Brno, the stars aligned perfectly, capitalising on the dodgy form for the perceived front-runners to clearly gain confidence with every move made into contention.
KTM might have had hopes of a few more podiums and maybe, just maybe a win but they certainly wouldn’t have expected it to come from its South African rookie.
Tellingly, his next best result in 2020 came straight after in Austria, his fourth place coming on the crest of a confidence wave no doubt. Thereafter though Binder faded more into the background, his rookie status taking its toll in dicier situations, such as in the wet and on tracks where going from Moto2 to MotoGP is more exposing.
He was also the culprit for a couple of avoidable accidents, particularly an ultimate faux pas of taking stablemate Miguel Oliveira down in Jerez, while Jack Miller was his unintended victim in Valencia.
Qualifying certainly wasn’t a strength, which helps frame his race results – usually involving an move up the order – more favourably. While he’d end the year with a fairly meagre five top ten finishes, he was still a huge contributing factor to KTM Red Bull Factory securing an excellent third in the teams’ standings.
The diamond was rough coming into 2020 and it still is at the end of it… but there was enough polishing to see Binder has a very exciting future in this sport and it is all credit to KTM for finding, nurturing and providing in order to let it happen.
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Crash.net’s 2020 MotoGP Rider of the Year Ranking