Demanding first day at Le Mans for Oliveira and Binder


The Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto2 riders work hard at the French track to find the best setup for their KTM bikes, ending the day in eighth and twenty-first position, respectively.


The second European round of the 2018 Moto2 season kicked off this Friday at Le Mans. The Red Bull KTM Ajo riders experienced two difficult free practice sessions, which were demanding on their riding style as well as their bike setups. The pair set their best lap times in the afternoon, with Miguel Oliveira finishing eighth on the combined timesheets. Brad Binder was 21st on his first time with a Moto2 at Le Mans.

The Red Bull KTM Ajo riders had very different FP1 sessions. Oliveira took advantage of the good weather conditions to keep among the Top 10, at a circuit that he admits he finds difficult. He finished the 45-minute run in ninth place -1:37.956. Meanwhile, Binder struggled more than he had anticipated, going 22nd with a 1:38.801.

In the afternoon, the first to cut tenths off his FP1 time was the South African, who did so just before entering the pits for the first time. The 1:38.152 halfway through the session moved him up to 20th place. The Portuguese had to wait until his second stint to put in a 1:37, although he did so for three consecutive laps. A best time of 1:37.362 placed him seventh.

Tomorrow sees the qualifying session for the Moto2 French GP get underway at 3:05pm. Both Oliveira -in 2012 and 2013- and Binder -in 2016- have started Moto3 races at Le Mans from the front row, and will look to take positive places in the session so as to avoid the need for a raceday fightback.


Results (Combined practice times FP1-FP2)
1. Marcel Schrotter (Kalex) 1:37.001
2. Francesco Bagnaia (Kalex) 1:37.082 +0.081
3. Alex Marquez (Kalex) 1:37.094 +0.093
4. Joan Mir (Kalex) 1:37.146 +0.145
5. Jorge Navarro (Kalex) 1:37.223 +0.222
8. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:37.362 +0.361
21. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:38.152 +1.151


“The track conditions were a little difficult today, even though I was able to improve my time in the afternoon. I’m not 100% happy; first of all with the crash, and also about not being consistent. We finished 7th in the FP2 and were 2 tenths off, and everything is very tight, but we will try to improve the bike for tomorrow and get as high up the grid as possible. We still have to understand a bit better how to manage the brakes, try to make the front end of the bike a bit more stable and see how much grip we get from that.
We also have to improve my riding at this circuit; it is very short, very narrow, and you have to watch your line. Here it is important to have both a fast lap and consistency. If you have the fastest lap, things are easier for the race, but then you have to keep up the pace because it’s a long race and there are many places where you can make mistakes. We will try to be as comfortable as possible.”

“It was a very difficult first day. I struggled a lot since the opening laps; for some reason I didn’t manage to feel comfortable with the front. My biggest problem is stopping the bike on the chicanes and changing direction on the apex of the corners. In FP2 we have tried a new setup to solve these issues, but it didn’t work as expected. We need to look at the data to see what is going on, and to make a plan for QP. I hope to feel more comfortable tomorrow, although we have work ahead. In the end, we have to take a step forward with everything: Both my riding and the setup of the bike.”