Interview with Brad Binder: “All the sacrifices have been worth it”


New Moto3 World Champion analyses his road to the 2016 title, won yesterday at the Aragon GP.

Brad Binder took his first opportunity to clinch the Moto3 World Championship this past weekend at MotorLand Aragon, finishing second in the race to win the title with four rounds remaining. The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider has enjoyed an excellent season to date, with 5 wins and 6 podiums to his name, becoming the third South African ever to become World Champion. Following his coronation, Binder talks about his dream season, his feelings after winning the title and what he expects to encounter next season in Moto2 with Red Bull KTM Ajo.

How does it feel being Moto3 World Champion?
“The truth is I don’t know what to say, everything is a bit strange and I can’t quite believe it yet. Everything has gone very fast. I found it hard to sleep last night. Yesterday we were able to celebrate in the village with all of the team members and my family, and that was very nice. Today we returned to the circuit for a day of testing. It seems that nothing has changed, but we are World Champions.”

Who has supported you on your way to the title?
“I am very grateful to my parents; they have made great sacrifices so that I could be here. We came to Europe when I was 12 so I could ride, and this the first time we feel that all this effort has really paid off. In addition, I have a great team behind me: Aki Ajo and each of the members of the Red Bull KTM Ajo team. I can’t thank them enough for what they have done. To be happy every day you spend in the paddock is great. I also thank KTM for giving me such an amazing bike.”

How will you face the last four races of the World Championship?
“They will be four races where the aim is to enjoy ourselves, and go to each circuit with the ambition of pushing our hardest and seeing what happens. It will certainly be a very strange feeling, because I have become somewhat conservative at times recently. Now I only have to go out there with my head held high and try to win each of the remaining races.”

Has your victory made big news in South Africa?
“I think it has made a pretty big impact. The amount of media requests we had for this weekend has been crazy. My phone has been ringing every two seconds; In fact, this weekend I left my phone in the car the whole time. Since yesterday I have talked to seven or eight different media outlets in my country, so something is changing.”

Is Motorland Aragon a special place for you now?
“Of course, I’ll never forget the day I was crowned champion. It was very special to win here; in the future this circuit will have a place in my heart, without a doubt.”

“What made the difference is that I have the most amazing team behind me.”

What has been your best race of the season so far?
“I would say Jerez. Coming back from last position to win was very special, and considering it was the first victory for me, I couldn’t have asked for more.”

What do you think has been the key to winning the title?
“Honestly, what made the difference is that I have the most amazing team behind me. It is a large structure, everything worked great and everybody has worked very hard. I’ve never started a race with doubts about anything. The people from KTM, my manager, the sponsors and everyone around me have also made it so that everything has worked perfectly. It is very nice to come into a GP weekend and not be stressed or worried, and able to dedicate myself to doing my job.”

Have you felt joy or relief now that you’ve won the championship?
“I don’t know, the truth is that I was not too stressed. My attitude was that it would be great if it happened. Obviously I wanted to win, but there were still four races afterwards; you could say that I was in a very different situation to most riders who fight for a title. Normally everything is resolved at Valencia and you have to make a perfect weekend, but if I had crashed it would not have been a problem. I didn’t have that pressure that people were talking about.”

What was the turning point this season?
“My first win in Jerez; starting from last and winning was amazing. Whenever I had difficulties this season I looked back and said, ‘if we were able to come back from last position, then I’m sure we can win this race.’ After winning for the first time, something clicks and you start to believe that everything is possible and you prepare the best strategy to try to win every race.”

At what point did you start to think it was really possible to win the title?
“When our advantage was more than 75 points, I thought there was a great opportunity. This year we have been very consistent, but so have my rivals in the class and I have not had it easy. Jorge [Navarro] broke his leg and occasionally couldn’t finish a race, and during that time I was able to win and open up a large gap. I’m very glad that the work has been done and that we can just enjoy ourselves now.”

“Whenever I had difficulties this season I looked back and said, ‘if we were able to come back from last position, then I’m sure we can win this race.’”

You came into the World Championship from European series. Do you think this is still the only way for riders from countries with less tradition in motorcycle racing to reach the World Championship?
“For a South African, the best thing you can do is probably try to enter the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. For me it was a decisive turning point to getting into the World Championship. In South Africa there aren’t the strong competitions that there are in Spain, for example, that allow you to grow as a rider. However, since I was 12 years old I’ve been competing against the same rivals and this is very good.”

What you think is your best quality as a rider?
“I wouldn’t know what to say. This year I’ve noticed that I’m much more relaxed when things are not going well; I used to be a little picky before and that was never too good for me. This season when things have gone wrong, I have focused on remembering what I had done before and looked to do it again. It happened on Saturday in qualifying at Aragon: I couldn’t do anything, I went out with four minutes to go and had 10 riders behind me, plus 2 more waiting at the first corner. There is no need to look at the results and think, ‘This is horrible, this is not going to go well.'”

How are you preparing for the move up to Moto2 with Red Bull KTM Ajo next season?
“I am just going to go out there and see how things go. You can see that when other riders have made the move from Moto3, it has been a tough step up. Honestly, I just want to work hard, take things lap by lap. Maybe it will not be the first or second year, but I am convinced that I will reach the top one day. I will continue in the same team, with a structure that fills me with confidence. I am also sure that the Red Bull KTM Ajo bike will have a lot of potential.”