Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto2 team review first half of the 2017 season20/07/2017
Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder look back on the first nine races for the Red Bull KTM Ajo project in the intermediate class, before the second half of the campaign gets underway.
Competing in the Moto2 category of the Motorcycle World Championship is never easy, and things are even harder with a brand new bike.
However, the Red Bull KTM Ajo team have taken the challenge in their stride, and have enjoyed an excellent first half of the 2017 season.
Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder have been the two riders who have helped make the KTM Moto2 machine one of the fastest on the grid. The Portuguese is third in the overall standings with four podiums and a pole position to his name, while the South African has featured in the Top 10 in his first season in the class.
The Red Bull KTM Ajo team only had to wait until the second round of the season, in Argentina, to get their first pole position and first podium in Moto2. Despite a lack of testing references and data at the majority of tracks, the speedy adaptation made to the intermediate class to date mean there is reason to dream of a first win for the structure before the year’s end.
Interview with Miguel Oliveira
What assessment do you make of the first half of the season?
“Obviously we are happy with how things have gone so far. Some results have been better than we had expected, and to be honest we are all a little surprised. We didn’t expect to have podiums and a pole position when going to circuits where we had never been before, overcoming the different problems that we had at first. It’s something we didn’t think was possible. So far, it’s been a good season.”
In what aspects can the KTM Moto2 bike evolve?
“Improvements will come at the same time as we encounter obstacles. At this moment we need to experiment with the bike. When we have been able to test the bike in all kinds of conditions, we will be able to sit down and assess exactly what aspects we should evolve.”
You are riding at circuits where this bike has never been before. On raceday, do you feel you have a setup that has been sufficiently tested?
“Sometimes the problem is not getting to a circuit for the first time, but rather the different weather conditions that we can find throughout a weekend. When it rains during practice or there are different conditions to those that we find in the race, we notice that we lack track time, but that’s something that is completely normal.”
Is winning a race a goal for you in the second half of the year?
“To be up in the Top 5 you have to be very precise and not make mistakes. If we are in the top positions, then we will take the risk to win. We hope to be in that position more often and I’m sure that something good will come.”
What does it mean to be the only KTM team in the class?
“It’s a Moto2 team with ties to the factory, so we have the opportunity to test many configurations and parts in the tests we do. It’s an aspect that we value very positively.”
What are you going to do this summer?
“Basically I will try to disconnect a little from competition and enjoy some time at the family home.”
Interview with Brad Binder
What has it been like having to deal with so many operations on your left arm?
“It’s been very hard. When I thought that I would only be missing training in December, we arrived at the end of January and I was told that I had to go under the knife again. Everything seemed fine, but in Argentina, the plate moved and I broke my arm again while I was riding, forcing me to go through a third operation. That last one was harder than the previous two, because I have had to do much more rehabilitation. Now I just need time in order to get strong again. Every time I get on the bike I feel better and more comfortable, so we are taking steps in the right direction.”
Was it your worst moment in your Grand Prix career to date?
“Yes, without a doubt. It has been very strange. I was living a dream; I had won my first World Championship, won the last race of the year, had my first Moto2 test… and suddenly a crash brought me back down to earth. I was unlucky, but this is part of racing. I hope I don’t have any more injuries, but if I do, I think I’ll be better prepared to face it.”
How are you feeling about your first season in Moto2?
“Starting out in this new class has been hard. I haven’t yet been able to ride when 100% fit, so it’s very frustrating. Every time I get on the bike I learn something new.”
Are you surprised by the results that this new Red Bull KTM Ajo project are getting in the first half of the season?
“I knew from the beginning that Ajo Motorsport would not accept competing with a bike that wasn’t able to win. However, seeing the incredible results that Miguel [Oliveira] is achieving with the bike is impressive. This is good for me because it is a reference to follow. He and the team are helping me learn very quickly.”
You’ve had many raceday fightbacks similar to the ones you had last year in Moto3. Is it just as difficult to do in Moto2?
“In Moto3 I always had a very good pace throughout the weekend and I felt like one of the strongest riders on track. This year I have started races from far back, but because I wasn’t faster in practice. In the race I close my eyes and give 110% from the beginning to the end. It is satisfying to see that on Sundays I can take a step forward compared to qualifying.”
What is your plan for the summer break?
“I’ll be back home, in South Africa. Once I’ve been able to disconnect, I’ll return to Europe and train hard once again to face the second half of the season as prepared as possible.”