Binder clinches 2016 Moto3 Championship in Aragon
With 106 point and four round lead over closest rival, Jorge Navarro
Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Brad Binder wrapped up the 2016 Moto3 World Championship title after taking second place in a dogfight finish at the Aragon circuit in Spain, with four rounds to go.
Binder had hoped to go out with a win but had to settle for second place behind Jorge Navarro. Enea Bastianini, Binder’s closest rival for the title before the race finished third.
Beginning 2016 with three podiums in a row and a pole position in Argentina, the fuse on Binder’s championship challenge was really lit at the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez, in which he took his maiden win.
Starting from the back of the grid after a technical infringement, the South African fought his way back through with almost unbelievable aggression and speed, soon heading the second group and on the way to catching the front freight train in the Moto3 battle.
Arriving with laps to spare, the 2016 Moto3 world champion then passed his rivals and tucked back in – taking the victory with a comfortable margin and announcing his intentions for the year.
With his first win under his belt, Binder’s success simply continued to roll, winning the two subsequent races and suffering only one DNF in wet conditions in Brno, crashing out the lead in the Czech GP proving the only blot on his 2016 record.
Four more wins and a stunning 106 point margin upon arrival to the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragon saw Binder with his first mathematical shot at the title – and the odds were not long.
He knew he needed to finish the race with a 100-point advantage to get the job done. He needed either a win or a second place on his KTM RC250 GP, and after that there was a baffling list of point possibilities that would still let him win the prize.
There was also a lot at stake for the Italian Bastianini who was the only rider with a chance of spoiling Binder’s party. He fought hard all the way but also admitted in the finish area that the South African had been faster on the day.
Binder leaves Aragon as he arrived, 106 point ahead and with now four races and 100 points still up for grabs. He also becomes the first South African rider to win a grand prix title since Jon Ekerold won the 350cc title in 1980.
“Right now it doesn’t feel real yet. The race was tough. It came down to the final lap. I knew where I had to be and I gave it a try but I was so terrible in the last corner. Today we lost the battle but we won the war.”
Navarro’s win bumps him up to second in the rankings, four points ahead of Bastianini, and KTM riders Joan Mir and Nicolo Bulega are currently 4-5.
Before the race, tension was palpable, as the riders lined up on a grid that looked nothing like the results sheets in qualifying. Many riders incurred ride slow penalties from the previous day and Belgian Livio Loi was bumped off the front row to start at the back after his team was deemed to have a technical irregularity with his bike. This left Binder at the fifth grid position, two up on his seventh fastest in qualifying.
Binder, Bastianini and Navarro were the major players throughout the 20-lap race on the Spanish circuit, and it quickly developed into a battle of wits, race craft and guts. Bastianini was determined to extend his chances of closing the gap, and Navarro, who has had a difficult season with injury, was equally determined to take the race win and put himself back in contention.
These three riders exchanged the lead during the first half of the race, joined by KTM rider Philipp Oettl in laps seven to nine. The battle intensified from lap 13, then in the next lap Binder lost drive going through the Carlos Checa corner and dropped to fourth.
Binder rebounded in lap 16 and swept from fourth into the lead. He was again forced wide in lap 18 and dropped back to fourth, which put him one point away from the title. Going into the final lap there was virtually nothing separating the top four riders, Bastianini, Binder, Navarro and Italian Fabio Di Giannantonio. Navarro hit the front with four corners to go and in the closing stages Binder slipped past Bastianini into second and the title was his.
The next race is on October 16, at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan.