Red Bull KTM Ajo make strong start to Catalan GP


Moto3 World Championship leader Brad Binder concludes first day of practice in the Top 3, with Bo Bendsneyder in a positive sixteenth place.

The seventh round of the Moto3 season kicked off today at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit, and the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders began their weekend of work with one eye on Sunday’s race. Progressing significantly from the first to the second Free Practice session, Brad Binder finished with the third fastest time of the day, with teammate Bo Bendsneyder sixteenth.

Early sun took track temperatures up to 24°C in FP1, allowing the Moto3 riders to go fast right from the get-go. The Red Bull KTM Ajo duo made single stops in the pits and looked to get on the pace with used tyres. Binder, sixth with a time of 1:52.492, and Bendsneyder -thirteenth with a 1:53.146-, both made solid starts to their preparations.

When they went back out on track for the second Free Practice session, the asphalt temperature had risen to a scorching 44°C -although this did not stop the progress of the World Championship leader and the Red Bull KTM Ajo rookie, who again started with used tyres. Despite traffic on his final laps, Binder ended the day with a top time of 1:51.625, giving him third place despite not having put in a true hot lap. Bendsneyder improved by almost 7 tenths in FP2 and stopped the clock at 1:52.454, taking him to fifteenth in the session and sixteenth overall.

In the qualifying session at 12:35pm on Saturday, Binder will fight for a place on the front row and Bo Bendsneyder seek to consolidate the step forward made in QP in Italy.

Results (Combined practice time FP1-FP2)
1. Niccolo Antonelli (Honda) 1:51.250
2. Jorge Navarro (Honda) 1:51.511 +0.261
3. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:51.625 +0.375
4. Hiroki Ono (Honda) 1:51.656 +0.406
5. Jules Danilo (Honda) 1:51.905 +0.655
16. Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) +1.204

“This morning was pretty tough, because I didn’t manage to feel comfortable with the bike. In the afternoon, on the first stint my feeling didn’t improve greatly but I continued pushing -it was useful to see what to change. On my first stop in the garage the team made some small adjustments to the bike and we took an important step forward, then in the last run I could have gone faster but didn’t complete any good laps. We can do better. Looking ahead to tomorrow, the objective has be to be to get on either of the first two rows, but if not it would not be a disaster. The race will be run in a large group at the front, so we’ll see.”

“It was a good start to the weekend. In FP1 the track was a bit slippery, as well as being bumpy, so we focused on finding markers and learning the circuit well. In the second session we went out with used tyres and rode race distance. I felt very solid but tomorrow we have to improve our pace a bit. We are very close to the target. At the end of FP2 we put on a new tyre and I followed Brad’s pace, but we also kept up with other riders who in the end finished above me. The aim is to repeat in the qualifying session what we did at Mugello, but first we need to improve our pace and lap times in FP3.”