Binder claims last-gasp second row at Misano


South African rider sets great last lap in qualifying, to start the San Marino GP from fifth. Miguel Oliveira will take off from ninth.

The Red Bull KTM Ajo team ended Saturday at the San Marino GP satisfied with their performance, as both of their Moto2 riders took places on the front three rows of the grid. Brad Binder will start from the second row after setting the fifth best time in qualifying, while Miguel Oliveira -fastest in Free Practice- earned ninth place.

The initial plan for FP3 was for both riders to work on their race pace with used tyres, but two big moments altered the strategy. First of all, a few seconds into the session, Binder suffered a small crash at Turn 8, forcing him to the return to the garage. The second moment came right at the end of the 45-minute run, when Oliveira sprung a surprise with the best time of the session and topped the combined timesheets with a solitary 1:37.754 lap on new tyres. Binder finished nineteenth with a 1:38.922.

In qualifying, the Moto2 field once again tried to set quick times early on. Oliveira was one such rider, and his best lap of the weekend came at the end of his first stint. After putting in his 1:37.678 lap, earning him ninth on the grid, the Portuguese had a small crash at Turn 4 midway through the session, getting back on track quickly. In contrast, Brad Binder waited until the end to make a final push. With the chequered flag already having been shown, the South African has clocked a 1:37.621 that moved him up to fifth place.

The twelfth Moto2 race of the year will take place over 25 laps from 12:20pm. Both Red Bull KTM Ajo riders have previous podium experience at Misano, in Moto3: Binder won the 2016 San Marino GP and Oliveira finished second in 2015.

Results (Qualifying session)
1. Francesco Bagnaia (Kalex) 1:37.121
2. Marcel Schrotter (Kalex) 1:37.331 +0.210
3. Mattia Pasini (Kalex) 1:37.416 +0.295
4. Fabio Quartararo (Speed Up) 1:37.540 +0.419
5. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:37.621 +0.500
9. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:37.678 +0.557


“It was a bit of a strange qualifying session, as we knew it was important to set a fast lap as early as possible. I wasn’t able to put in an ideal lap; I struggled to string all of the sectors together and in the end we finished ninth. I would have liked to have been a little higher up on the grid, although we were less than a tenth off fifth. It’s a shame not to have been able to get there. I am relaxed ahead of the race, and I know that if we get a good start we can be in the fight for the podium. It’s also a challenge for us to keep in the fight for the title, so we will not let the opportunity to cut the gap in the championship get away from us.”

“Things hadn’t gone as we wanted before my last lap, because I hadn’t managed to set a fast enough time, but I took a lot of risks and luckily things went well right at the end. I still want to improve my feeling on the bike. We have to work on our race pace, so tomorrow in the warmup we will try to find something that will help us to be more prepared. I start every race thinking that I can get onto the podium, so let’s see what happens this Sunday.”