Binder aims to check Bagnaia's title march at KTM's home Austrian

Binder aims to check Bagnaia's title march at KTM's home Austrian

Brad Binder turned 28 this week and the South African is intent on wrapping up his birthday celebrations in style at the Austrian MotoGP.

Brad Binder - AFP
Joe Klamar / AFP

The pressure is on the popular KTM rider to perform at his Austrian factory team's local circuit.

While world champion Francesco Bagnaia tightened his grip on the overall lead in the last race at Silverstone a fortnight ago, Binder took third place to move fourth overall. He is the top non-Ducati rider in the standings.

That was a welcome change of luck for Binder who was denied podiums in both the sprint and main race at Assen in June after track limit time penalties.

He returns to the Red Bull Ring, where he won in 2021 for his second, and last, Sunday success. After taking two sprints this term he feels it's time for his third career MotoGP victory.

"This is the closest thing I'm going to have for a 'home' grand prix," Binder said at the circuit on Thursday.

"It's KTM's home. I always want to have a strong weekend.

"It was an amazing feeling to win here. There's no better place to get a result right."

Binder, who has a second and a third on a Sunday this year to add to Saturday sprint wins in Argentina and Spain, continued: "I'm going into the weekend with a lot of confidence.

"The bike is working exceptionally well lately.


- 'Not far away' -

"I'm ready to give it a go and see how this weekend pans out. It's cool to win two sprint races but it's been a while since I won on a Sunday.

"I need to just make some small tweaks. We're not far away.

"Many times this year, I've been fighting for a podium - even though I've made some mistakes, and I've made a lot of them, thrown away a few."

Ducati factory star Bagnaia arrives sitting comfortably atop the riders standings.

Although he may have missed out on his fifth success of the season, hustled off the top of the podium in the last lap by Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro, Bagnaia emerged as a big winner from Silverstone.

His runner-up spot, with Marco Bezzecchi crashing out, pushed Bagnaia 41 points clear of Jorge Martin, on a Ducati Pramac, with Bezzecchi, of the VR46 Ducati team, a further six points back in third.

As the season gears up for the 10th of 20 races, the field will be gunning for Bagnaia as he seeks back-to-back wins in Spielberg.

"We know perfectly the potential of our bike. I'll try to take most points we can at a good track for us," said the Italian.

Espargaro arrives at the picturesque circuit cradled in the Styrian hills with his confidence high after his second premier category win in Britain.

He produced a superb ride from 12th on the Silverstone grid, the lowest starting position for a race winner since Marco Melandri won from 14th at the Turkish MotoGP in 2006.

"I'll be trying to keep up that momentum this weekend," said Espargaro.

Two world champions who badly need MotoGP's wheel of fortune to spin in their favour are Marc Marquez and Fabio Quartararo.

Six-time MotoGP titleholder Marquez is enduring a torrid 2023 and the Honda star turns up in Austria still searching for his first points in a Sunday race.

As for Yamaha's Quartararo, the 2021 champion qualified last in Britain - his worst grid position since joining MotoGP in 2019.

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