Sometimes things come together so perfectly, they can appear easy to the casual observer – like a five second gap at the front in only your third MotoGP™ race. That reads like an easy ride for Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) as he made history in the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky, and he certainly dominated a field of experience to make it look so. But the blood, sweat and tears that go into winning, and making history, are often not caught on camera. That doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
For Binder, the path to MotoGP™ victory and the first South African win in the premier class is one that starts in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup, ascending via the 2016 Moto3™ crown with Red Bull KTM Ajo and a trophy cabinet full of lightweight and intermediate class silverware. For KTM, the journey began full time competition in 2017 as the Austrian factory took on the premier class armed with a mission, a philosophy, and an incredible record of sporting achievement. In their fourth season, a vital first part of that mission is accomplished, their philosophy remains unwavering and victory is a reality.
Behind the rookie and factory taking victory for the first time in Brno, there were two more firsts after the awesome race day shake up at the Czech adrenaline factory too. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) took second and his first podium in the premier class, with Johann Zarco back on the box in third to give Esponsorama Racing their first MotoGP™ podium… via a spectacularly precise, pitch perfect and full gas Long Lap Penalty.
Morbidelli was the man fastest out the blocks as the lights went out, picking teammate Fabio Quartararo’s pocket round Turn 1 and bolting into the distance almost immediately as Zarco lost out from pole. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) also managed to get past the number 5 as he launched from fourth into the top three, before he even struck for second and dispatched Quartararo. The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing duo of Pol Espargaro and Binder made great starts to slot into fourth and fifth too, leaving Zarco initially down in P6.
Binder was then a man on a mission. The South African cut past teammate Espargaro and then Aleix Espargaro, soon stuck to the rear wheel of Quartararo as Zarco followed suit to strike back against former teammate Pol Espargaro… but that would soon to serve up some drama. Before that though, the number 44 made it through on Lap 6 and immediately set sights on his teammate and Quartararo as the battle for second became a double factory KTM vs Quartararo fight.
On Lap 9, Binder was through on El Diablo, striking at Turn 3 – a little wide but more than making it stick – and Pol Espargaro was next through. He then also headed wide at Turn 13 and lost the place, but drama was about to unfold at Turn 1 next time around: the KTM of Espargaro was a little wide and the Ducati of Zarco kept it pinned on the inside, leaving both heading for the same piece of tarmac. As the KTM swept back to get the run up through Turn 2, the two made contact and Espargaro was skittled off – earning Zarco a Long Lap Penalty for the incident.
Despite the heartbreak for one orange bike, there was plenty still to celebrate a little ahead on track. Honing in on Morbidelli and the race lead, Binder wasn’t showing any signs of slowing up, reeling in the Yamaha at speed and soon within striking distance. With nine laps left in Brno, the rookie sensation struck and Binder was in the lead of a MotoGP™ race for the first time. Could he now stay steadfast under pressure? It appeared he more than could, with the KTM immediately starting to bolt into clear air at the front.
On the same lap, Zarco took his Long Lap Penalty and despite preconceptions, that was a show in itself and one of the most spectacular moments of the race. Inch perfect, rear tyre smoking and absolutely pinned on the right side of the line, the number 5 saw his gap back to Quartararo in fourth evaporate but screamed out of the Long Lap area just ahead of his compatriot, holding third and keeping that first podium with Ducati still very much in sight.
Meanwhile Binder raced on, Morbidelli held firm, and the battle at the front became one of nerves. The fight just behind the top two was starting to heat up though, and with Zarco staying ahead of Quartararo it seemed like solid damage limitation for the Championship leader if he held fourth. The double Jerez winner was struggling, however. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) were all starting to hunt him down, with the Suzuki striking first with five laps to go. Nine-time World Champion Rossi soon followed suit on the same lap, and Quartararo quickly found himself lingering down in sixth. With four laps to go, the number 20 also fell victim to Oliveira’s charge and the focus shifted back to Zarco… who now had Alex Rins for very close company.
Binder – barring a mistake – was a few kilometres from making some very big dreams a very big reality, and Morbidelli looked secure to hit his own milestone too. But Rins was hot on the heels of the Ducati in third and the gap was just 0.6 between the GP19 and GSX-RR with a couple of laps to go; soon down to nothing as Zarco stared down a momentous final lap.
First to complete that would be Binder, however. The South African made the graft and grind look easy, over four seconds clear after more than four years of tireless work from the Austrian factory to see the RC-16 come home first and Binder etch his name into premier class and KTM folklore. Childhood dreams realised across the board, Morbidelli continued the trend as he brought his Yamaha home second to secure a fantastic maiden MotoGP™ podium, and he moves into P3 in the overall standings.
In the duel for third, Rins was looking menacing on the final lap but Zarco was holding firm, keeping the the Suzuki man at bay. The Frenchman closed the door and did so brilliantly to secure his first MotoGP™ podium since the 2018 Malaysian GP, making it a huge day for the Avintia team too, who achieve their first MotoGP™ podium to add to pole position gained on Saturday.
Fourth place for Rins remains remarkable, however, with the number 42 taking some valuable points after suffering a dislocation-fracture to the shoulder at the Spanish GP. Close to the Suzuki man was Rossi, who climbed to P5 from a P10 starting place in another great ride for ‘The Doctor’. Oliveira finished P6 to cement his best premier class finish, having started 13th, but Quartararo won’t be too pleased to have finished 11 seconds from the win in P7. Nevertheless, those are valuable points in the title race as key rivals remained behind the Frenchman on race day.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) finished one second adrift of Quartararo, in P8, and two seconds up the road from Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) after the Australian recovered from a tough start to pip Aleix Espargaro to P9 on the last lap. Miller ended the day just over a second up the road from Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), but the pair did salvage P9 and P11 from P14 and P18 starting positions.
Aleix Espargaro’s P10 was his first finish of 2020, important for the Spaniard and team, and Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) finished 12th but on the way into a historically good track for Ducati…
LCR Honda Castrol’s Cal Crutchlow finished 13th as he continues to battle a left scaphoid injury, and nine tenths behind him, Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) takes just two points home in P14, losing valuable ground in the Championship and now 17 adrift of Quartararo. Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) took 15th to continue his record of scoring at least a point in his first three MotoGP™ races.
In other key stories, Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech3) lost the front and collected Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in the early stages as the duo crashed out of contention.
That’s it from Brno and a truly history-making race. For Binder, for KTM, for South Africa, and for MotoGP™. The last time a rookie won a race, it was Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). Before that, it was Jorge Lorenzo, and before that, Dani Pedrosa – legends both. Pedrosa is also a man who shares some of the pay off after KTM’s stunning first win, now in the role of test rider with the factory. What can Binder go on to achieve now? It couldn’t really have been written better, as the tidal wave of glory now carries the paddock south to Styria and the stunning Red Bull Ring, home race for the newest winners on the block.
Come back for more – and we know you want to – as MotoGP™ revs the hills alive with the sound of horsepower in the Austrian GP next weekend.
- Brad Binder – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing – KTM – 41:38.764
- Franco Morbidelli – Petronas Yamaha SRT – Yamaha – +5.266
- Johann Zarco – Esponsorama Racing – Ducati – +6.470
Brad Binder: “It hasn’t sunk it yet. Today was the most incredible day of my lief so far, it’s a day I’ve dreamed of since I was a child, and for it to come true in my third Grand Prix is scary. I honestly can’t believe it. From the day starting in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup it’s been a consistent grind trying to get here. You know I came through all the classes with Red Bull KTM, and here we are on top. We’ve finally won in MotoGP.”
Moto2™: Bastianini holds off Lowes, Roberts takes first podium at Brno
The Italian stamps some more authority on the standings, the Brit is back on the box, and the American puts the Stars and Stripes on a GP podium for the first time since 2011.
Italtrans Racing Team’s Enea Bastianini produced perfection again in order to claim his second lights-to-flag victory in as many races at the Monster Energy Czech Republic Grand Prix, but the Italian was under pressure throughout the race from EG 0,0 Marc VDS’ Sam Lowes. The Briton eventually had to settle for second, but it was his first trip to a Grand Prix podium since Aragon 2016. Third on the podium was a career first Grand Prix rostrum for Tennor American Racing’s Joe Roberts as the American converted pole into some serious points and an impressive milestone.
Roberts was forced into second off of the line after Bastianini, starting third, got the best launch and took a commanding holeshot. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jorge Martin was quickly involved in the action after he edged his way past Roberts for second too, but it was extremely short-lived as the American replied immediately with a lunge back through. Lowes then began to find his rhythm though, and in the space of a lap had sliced his way past both Martin and Roberts, setting his sights on Bastianini at the front of the race.
The Italian’s pace at the front was simply too much for the vast majority of the grid. Bastianini was 0.9 seconds clear of Lowes, whilst Lowes was now a second clear of Roberts, who himself had managed to dispose of Martin. Despite the top three breaking clear though, the fight for fourth place was beginning to hot up with Spanish Grand Prix winner Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) coming through from tenth on the grid to slice past teammate Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46), Augusto Fernandez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) and Martin.
With 13 laps to go, Lowes had cut the Andalucia Grand Prix winner’s lead to below half a second for the first time. Could the Brit find enough to close onto the tail of the Italtrans Racing man? As the laps ticked by the gap remained constant, but Bastianini was still very much under pressure and there was still time left. With five laps to go though ‘The Beast’ showed his teeth for the first time, finding something extra in the closing stages to stretch his lead out to three-quarters of a second…
With two to go, that then became a whole second, but Lowes then suddenly halved the 22-year-old’s lead on the final lap. Was a dramatic finish was potentially on the cards? Almost, but Bastianini just managed to keep the edge to the chequered flag as he won back-to-back for the first time, and took the Moto2™ World Championship lead. Lowes officially put to bed one of the most difficult periods in his career as he jumped back onto the box for the first time in four years, and the podium was completed by Roberts, who put in a solid and impressive ride to take a career first Grand Prix podium and become the first American since John Kocinski in 1993 to stand on an intermediate class rostrum.
Marini managed to cross the line in fourth to take some good points after a tougher Saturday, just ahead of Fernandez, with Bezzecchi, Navarro and Martin next up. There was then a small gap back to Hafizh Syahrin (Openbank Aspar Team) as the Malaysian found some Moto2™ form and finished inside the top ten, with his rookie teammate Aron Canet (Openbank Aspar Team) completing that top ten.
Former points leader Tetsuta Nagashima (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was P11, with Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing), Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team), Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) and Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) completing the top 15.
That’s a wrap from Brno and Bastianini now heads to Austria with quite the advantage at the top. Can the field hit back? Find out next weekend as we race at the Red Bull Ring.
- Enea Bastianini – Italtrans Racing Team – Kalex 39:13.926
- Sam Lowes – EG 0,0 Marc VDS – Kalex +0.423
- Joe Roberts – Tennor American Racing – Kalex +5.948
Enea Bastianini: “This race has been really important for me to confirm the result from Jerez, and this weekend Sam was really fast and his pace was incredible, and I thought, ‘ok I should stay behind him and if possible try to overtake’, but I started very well and I pushed my best to stay at the front. Then the gap was really close all race, and I thought ‘ok, this race I’m second’. But finally the last five laps I could push to take this victory. I’m really happy for the team, this result is really important, but congrats to Sam and congrats to Joe as well.”
Moto3™: Foggia takes first Grand Prix win after classic battle in Czechia
The Italian joins the winners’ club as he fights off Arenas and Ogura in another Moto3™ melee at Brno.
Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) produced a superb ride at the Monster Energy Czech Republic Grand Prix to claim his maiden Moto3™ victory, the Italian leading over half the race to eventually fend off Championship leader Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team) by two tenths. Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) completed the podium after hustling Foggia for much of the last lap, forced to settle for third in the end but consolidating his position in the Championship as he leaves Brno second.
Launching well off the front row was Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) and it was the Argentinian who grabbed the holeshot, with polesitter Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) slipping to P3. The best start of all was from Arenas, however. Starting seventh, the Spaniard had a blinder and was leading the race by at Turn 3 as he pushed from the off. Rodrigo was then out the seat through Turn 7 and the riders behind had to sit up too, giving Arenas a substantial lead as the riders completed the opening lap in Brno.
Arenas’ eight-tenth advantage was cut within a lap and a half though, with the top 15 starting to edge clear of 16th place Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech3) in the opening exchanges. But that gap was also soon diminished though as the leading 27 riders were covered by just four seconds.
A rider who we expected – but haven’t seen as of yet in 2020 – to be at the front this year then took the baton. Foggia and Ogura had got the better of Arenas with 12 to go, and in the final 10 laps things would really heat up. Alonso Lopez (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) highsided on the exit of Turn 3 on Lap 9, but then drama unfolded for one of the title favourites. Turn 10 had looked troublesome for Suzuki and with nine laps remaining, the Japanese star was down and out of the race, taking his first zero of the year…
By seven to go, the top 10 riders were 2.5 clear of 11th place Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power) and Foggia was still leading, by then from compatriot Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team). Masia and McPhee were ahead of Arenas and just behind the leading five lurked Ogura, Fernandez, Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) and Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), making sure it remained anyone’s game.
Heading into the final three laps, Foggia was still holding onto the lead, with Arbolino looking for a way through but unable to make anything stick. Suddenly the latter was shuffled back courtesy of a move from Arenas at Turn 1 as well, leaving Leopard Racing’s Foggia and teammate Jaume Masia 1-2… before drama then struck at Turn 11 with two to go as Masia slid out of contention. Ogura then made his move up into P2 past Arenas as the last lap began, with Foggia heading Ogura and Arenas, and Antonelli and McPhee in fourth and fifth…
Ogura swept through at Turn 3 but Foggia got the cutback into Turn 4, with Arenas then getting a good run down the hill to grab second. Ogura was back through moments later though, looking threatening behind the leader, but Foggia kept the door closed. Arenas then picked the pocket of the Japanese rider up the inside at Turn 12, ultimately costing the Honda Team Asia rider a chance to get a good run up horsepower hill and really fight it out for the win. Foggia was a good few bike lengths clear by then, and the Italian rounded the final two corners without hassle from behind to take the chequered flag in P1 for an impressive first victory. Arenas held on to keep P2 from Ogura as the top two in the Championship went toe-to-toe on the last lap, the Spaniard extending his points lead.
Just off the podium, Antonelli took fourth and some solid points, with McPhee putting in a solid comeback to complete the top five and take a good haul of points too. Polesitter Fernandez was a couple of tenths off McPhee to finish sixth for the third race in a row, but the Spaniard beat former FIM Moto3™ Junior World Championship rival Alcoba as the duo battled it out in the lead group throughout.
Behind them, Arbolino and Fenati crossed the line with nothing to choose between them, but it was the Rivacold Snipers Team rider who just took P8. Fenati still achieves his best result of the season and his first top 10 of 2020 for Husqvarna though, with Stefano Nepa (Gaviota Aspar Team) getting the better of Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo) to head the second freight train of riders over the line in P10.
Binder, Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46), teammate Andrea Migno and Öncü completed the points scorers.
The Championship battles took another twist in Brno, with Arenas stamping more authority on the lightweight class 2020 title race – but it’s far from over. Coming up is a double-header at the Red Bull Ring and you can bet there’s going to be drama, with the likes of Ogura and McPhee eager to claw back their disadvantage.
- Dennis Foggia – Leopard Racing – Honda 39:06.370
- Albert Arenas – Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3 – KTM +0.205
- Ai Ogura – Honda Team Asia – Honda +0.251
Dennis Foggia: “It’s beautiful because it’s my first win in the World Championship. My goal was to push in front the whole race, and with ten or 11 to go I thought, ‘ok, push!’ It was crazy and the last lap especially. I’m really happy about the race, the team, the bike is different for me and it’s a bit strange at times, but we are working on the bike for me. I’m really happy and I want to thank my team and my family!”