Round 18 on the race calendar brought riders to sunny Spain for the last race of the year. If we thought last weekend was packed with spectators then we weren’t ready for this weekend! The Circuito Ricardo Tormo welcomed over 70,000 spectators for the Valencia GP and the second event in the space of a week.
Now, to be fair this weekend wasn’t just any last race of the season, but rather an emotional and exciting one. We saw an awesome farewell for the “Doctor”, Remy Gardner finally earning his last name by becoming the Moto2 champion and a few goodbyes from riders who will be moving classes next year.
After a wet start on Friday, the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana developed into a mild, dry and sunny event for the final run of practice and qualification.
Darryn Binder waited FP3 out and set his flying lap right at the end of the session, he was unfortunate to have his fastest lap time deleted—this left him in 26th. However, his FP1 lap put him ninth overall and secured him a place in Q2. Q2 saw Darryn change his strategy, he got out early during qualifying to set a banker lap of 1:39.810. Unfortunately, our fellow South African made a mistake and was unable to improve upon his time, meaning he would line up 16th on the grid come Sunday.
Sadly the final race of the season did not end in the way Darryn would have wanted, or expected, it to. Binder, who started from 16th on the grid, was in the process of making his way through the field when he experienced a turn 4 highside on the opening lap. This meant that the Valencia GP came to an early end for Darryn and the team.
DB: “It’s definitely not the way I wanted to end the season. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the best Qualifying yesterday, but I still felt pretty confident going into the race today. I got off to a good start, made some good passes in the first and second corners. Unfortunately in the exit of Turn 4, I had a really big highside and that was the end of my race. I’m so disappointed to end the season like this. It’s the first big mistake I’ve made at the beginning of a race this year, so I have to say sorry to the guys. It’s not the way I wanted to say farewell to them, but that’s racing sometimes. I can’t thank them enough for what has been a great season; thank you to everyone who has been involved this year and I wish them all the best for whatever their future holds.”
Q1 began with Brad Binder hunting down one of the top two slots. Brad was the most proactive KTM rider on the track and clocked two laps to consolidate second place and earn his entry into Q2. In Q2 Binder registered seven laps and his fifth effort was the standout, just half a second away from Jorge Martin’s pole position lap time.
With a 7th place at the end of qualifying, Brad was able to stamp his second-highest grid spot of the season—after having qualified 6th in Mugello earlier in the year.
Sunday saw Binder fly the orange flag on the third row of the grid—the most advanced KTM rider on track. Brad made an awesome start to the race, slid into the top five during the opening lap and engaged in a battle with Valentino Rossi and Aleix Espargaró.
After mid-race distance, Brad planted himself into the mid-top ten where he managed to stay ahead of Enea Bastianini and tried to close the gap to Johann Zarco. By the flag, he was only 1.5 seconds from 6th for his thirteenth top ten finish of the year.
BB: “I’m happy with where we finished in the championship and the race was a lot harder than I expected. I thought I’d be stronger and, unfortunately, I was missing a little in a few places and the gap was too much to make up in some corners. It was a tough race but I tried my absolute best from lap one to the end. I have to leave here happy because I left it all on the table. It has been my most consistent year and a level-up. I have to thank the team. Even though we had some tough times they never stopped working. 6th in the championship is good and now five to go.”
Action and work end with a final two-day test at the Circuit de Jerez-Angel Nieto this coming Thursday and Friday where teams will evaluate ideas and components for their 2022 set-up.