After a short breather riders returned to the hot asphalt of MotorLand Aragon for the thirteenth Grand Prix of the 2021 campaign and the third of four visits lined up in sunny Spain. 5.1 kays and 23 tyre ripping corners were laid out in front of the riders, with tyre endurance and race management being the make or break for podium contention—anything could happen.
Darryn Binder dominated qualifying in Aragon, taking his first pole since the Qatar GP. He started out his weekend with a top three in FP3, setting the third-fastest time (1:58.152) on his final lap, securing him a place in Q2. Our fellow South African continued to keep his pace in qualifying and immediately took his spot at the top of the timesheets with a 1:57.724 lap time. Darryn’s lap was just unmatchable and this meant he would claim his second pole position of the year.
Sunday saw Binder make a perfect launch off the line from pole and take the lead through the opening corners. As the laps started to trickle down Darryn found himself in a mid-pack scrap, which started to slowly force him down the roster.
Despite finding himself falling back to ninth, Darryn kept himself inside the leading group for the majority of the race. Unfortunately, he lost contact with them in the closing stages and ultimately ended the race in seventh. He maintains sixth overall in the championship standings with 104 points.
DB: “It was a really difficult race and I’m not sure what changed between yesterday and today, but we were missing some speed. I’m not happy with that or the result, so the team and I will have to look at what happened and why. It’s disappointing because I did feel really strong ahead of it; I was able to catch up in the corners but just couldn’t stay with the other riders in the straight. I need to look at the positives because overall it has been a good weekend and I’m really happy with how the weekend has gone, apart from the race.”
Brad Binder also showed some great pace like his younger brother and finished Saturdays qualifying as the quickest KTM RC16 rider on the day—11 riders were split by just 1.1 seconds. Brad grabbed second place in Q1 and transferred into Q2 for the second meeting in succession. Binder headed into Q2 with a massive disadvantage having used the best options from his tyre allocation and could not push to the maximum, which resulted in him qualifying 12th overall.
Sunday saw all the premier class riders line up on the grid with soft Michelin rear tyres…
Binder made a great launch and hovered his front wheel from 12th place on the grid straight into the exhaust stream of Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Iker Lecuona. Both riders circulated together in a dispute for 7th and ahead of championship leader Fabio Quartararo.
Lecuona dropped down to 10th by running wide at turn 8 and Binder had breathing room to move up to 6th and then gazed at a large gap to 5th. Well, Brad was pulling in 5th Marc Márquez was having an epic battle with pole setter Francesco Bagnaia for first. Binder negotiated the last three laps with fading rear grip and took 7th across the flag. He maintains sixth place in the championship standings with 117 points.
BB: “It was a tough race for us, really difficult, I tried my absolute best at the beginning not to destroy my rear tyre so that I would have something left for the end. Even though I nursed the left-hand side really well it gave me a very hard time on the last few laps. I need to say a huge thank you to the team because they worked so hard this weekend. The bike is working well, we just need a little bit more to be a bit more competitive. We are struggling more than we’d like to right now but it’s not for a lack of effort, that’s for sure. If we keep working then we are going to get there.”
There will be no rest for the Binders, as they now head to Misano for the Gran Premio di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini (17-19 September).