The lights are excitingly hovering on red for KTM’s fourth MotoGP in the immediate wake of the second and final pre-season test at the Losail International Circuit. Brad Binder was the fastest KTM RC16 rider after three days at the venue that will now open the 2020 campaign in two weeks on March 8th.
For the second day in a row (and of three) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders Brad Binder and Pol Espargaro clocked more than 110 laps of the 5.4km layout as afternoon turned to dusk and the crew completed their set-up work towards the first Grand Prix of twenty to come.
Rookie Binder (9th) was the surprise act after more modifications to his works KTM RC16 allowed the determined South African to register an effort that would stand less than half a second from the quickest lap of the day and be three tenths better than Pol Espargaro (14). The Spaniard, who worked diligently towards his race configuration across the three days but suffered a small crash on Monday afternoon and was ultimately denied a strong time-attack, was still just 0.7 of a second from the #1 spot.
Brad Binder: “I was quite surprised, to be honest. I felt comfortable and we made some changes today that helped me a lot and sorted many of my issues. I put in a new set of tyres and ‘bam!’ the lap-time came. The bike was good. I felt way more comfortable to get it stopped, turned quicker and also get on the throttle earlier. Once we figured that part out then it was a lot easier to put a fast lap together but it was still quite difficult to do 22 of them, so I have a long way to go! We made some good steps these three days and the team has been awesome. I’m looking forward to continuing at the GP.”
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Race Manager: “We still had a lot on the list after Sepang and we managed to get through it here, so the team and the riders did a great job. The focus was to work hard on the bikes to find the final configuration for the race weekend. Generally, we are happy and it is important that all four riders are fit for the start of the season. I think there is clear proof that we made a step with the bike from 2019 to 2020. The lap-time from Brad was very impressive by a rookie but we have been looking at the longer outings and he did well there also.
Sebastian Risse, Technical Coordinator MotoGP: “From a technical point of view we are ready. We managed to do most of the large items on our test schedule in Sepang and we know Losail is quite special in terms of the conditions and the way it changes with day sessions and night races and so on. So, we focussed on race distance and knowing the tyres specs better and for this place in particular: this all worked out quite well. You have to look behind the list of times when you are here.
Losail IRTA Test Day Three final times
1. Maverick Viñales (ESP), Yamaha 1:53.858
2. Franco Morbidelli (ITA), Yamaha +0.033
3. Alex Rins (ESP), Suzuki +0.210
4. Fabio Quartararo (FRA), Yamaha +0.219
5. Jack Miller (AUS), Ducati +0.247
9. Brad Binder (RSA), Red Bull KTM +0.425