Brad Binder takes spot on front row for French GP


World Championship leader sets second fastest time in very close qualifying session, in which Bo Bendsneyder goes less than one second off pole in 21st.

The Red Bull KTM Ajo riders had a positive second day at the French Grand Prix, in which the starting grid for the fifth race of the year was decided. Just 0.067s separated Brad Binder from pole position in a qualifying session in which he showed great pace but was hindered by heavy traffic. Such was the equality in times between the Moto3 riders, that Bo Bendsneyder’s lap -0.931s off pole position- saw him claim 21st place and a start from the seventh row.

Sun and pleasant temperatures again provided a surprise boost to the Moto3 class at Le Mans. A tight final practice session in the morning was used by the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders to finish working with worn tyres -with an eye on tomorrow’s race. Binder and Bendsneyder worked together and lowered their lap times from yesterday, completing the session in fifth -1:43.278- and eighteenth position -1:43.829-, respectively.

In the qualifying session, Binder confirmed his great pace for the race on Sunday. Halfway through, he was at the top of the timesheets with a time of 1:42.823. However, when the new soft tyres were put on his bike for one final assault on pole position, he was unable to use them effectively due to other riders attempting a tow. Red Bull KTM Ajo teammate Bendsneyder continued to make progress, stopping the clock at 1:43.687 for his best lap of the weekend. He also failed to improve in the second half of the session, as excessive traffic made it impossible to get a clean lap.

In tomorrow’s race -which takes place at 11am local time- Brad Binder will have the opportunity to take his fifth consecutive podium finish and defend his lead in the overall standings. Bo Bendsneyder, meanwhile, will look to score points for the second time this season.

Results (Qualifying practice)
1. Niccolo Antonelli (Honda) 1:42.756
2. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:42.823 +0.067
3. Aron Canet (Honda) 1:42. 825 +0.069
4. Jorge Navarro (Honda) 1:42.842 +0.086
5. Romano Fenati (KTM) 1:42.865 +0.109
21. Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:43.687 +0.931


“Second place is not bad, but I think we could have taken pole -as I set my best time with a medium rear compound and a front tyre that was already fairly worn out. The problem is that when we fitted the new soft compound, I had to abort a lot of laps due to the number of riders who were waiting to catch a tow. I would have liked to have been able to ride completely alone for a lap and could have improved my time quite easily. Unfortunately, these things happen, but I had a good pace in qualifying and so I am eager for the race tomorrow, because I feel strong.”


“Although I went faster in the qualifying session than at any other point this weekend, I know I can do more, because I was missing an open space on the track that would allow me to complete a good lap. I have to also analyse my performance, because I can improve at some points of the circuit. We still have the warmup tomorrow, which we will have to use well. The qualifying session is where experience counts more, so I have to adapt gradually. You need to be able to read the session to pick the right moment. Despite my position, we have a good pace and I hope to be fighting to get into the points. I’m looking forward to the lights going off and making a good start.”