A resurfaced Phillip Island meant that times were faster than ever, this also saw some huge crashes as riders relearnt the limits of the fast and flowing Australian track. Brad didn’t want to risk a crash in FP1 so was somewhat reserved. His put his Mahindra in 17th with a time of 1’39.497, just .2 behind Efren Vazquez on the factory Mahindra.
FP2 saw the young South African cut .8 from his lap time and improve by 9 places, now running in 8th and just .2 behind leading Mahindra Miguel Oliveira. Brad and the team were very happy with the progress. The gusting wind had caused all the Moto3 bikes issues as the front was lifting and pushing the bikes wide. Brad was confident that with less wind he could go even faster. Continue reading
For Friday FP1 and FP2 the mixture of sweltering hot mornings and monsoon rain afternoons didn’t stop Brad Binder from lapping with the front runners and showing what he and the Mahindra MGP30 can do now they have been together for a few races.
FP1 was typical Sepang, scorching hot with 90%+ humidity, making even a run of five laps seem like a whole race. Luckily Brad’s South African blood was used to heat so he was able to put in longer runs than others. Brad set an impressive lap time early in the session that saw him remain fourth till the closing minutes. His 2’15.741 was good enough for 8th in the end and he set the fastest time through Sector 1.The midday break saw dark clouds come over the track and there was a lot of discussion about whether it would rain and for how long, luckily Brad isn’t a weatherman. It poured down for a good long while but when the rain did stop the track began to dry very quickly. The majority of the session was spent on wets, but in the closing minutes the track came dry enough for slicks. Unfortunately Brad’s team didn’t have time to change the wet weather setting on his bike so he was unable to push fully. He finished in 15th.
“Today went pretty well overall. I was really happy with how we were going in FP1 and I think we can run at that pace all weekend. The afternoon session was okay in the wet, the bike handles well and we just got caught out in the last few minutes. Overall I’m pretty happy with today, especially my sector times from FP1.”
Sepang was surprisingly overcast throughout all of Saturday, with small showers making the track treacherous throughout the day. By Sepang standards, Free Practice 3 was quite cold. This didn’t stop Brad dipping into the 2’14s with a 2’14.449 and ending the session 9th fastest and second Mahindra. Brad and his team have made huge steps in understanding the Mahindra bike in such a short period of time.
Qualifying for the Moto3 bikes came after a small shower. This meant that there were damp patches littering the track. Not wanting to risk a crash, Brad spent the first ten minutes in his box waiting for easier conditions. Once Brad did venture onto track he was quickly on the pace, running in the top five for most of the session. Brad was on a very fast lap in the closing stages of Qualifying when he hit a damp patch that caused him to crash, ending his session. As a result Brad will start 23rd on the grid.
“Yeah, today started off good, but then it didn’t go so well. The crash was a fast one but luckily I’m okay. The crash was a combination of me pushing too hard and hitting a damp patch. Luckily there wasn’t too much damage. I feel good for the race tomorrow, wet or dry. We have good pace and I know I can make up a lot of places, especially down the straight as we’ve been top five or so in the speed trap all weekend.”
Back in the Points!
As Brad lined up on the grid in 14th he was determined to make a good start and charge the short distance to turn one. The opening lap of the race saw Brad rocket up to 11th and get involved with a large group up to 9th. The group fought tooth and nail, in typical Moto3 style, and changed positions frequently. Several crashes and strong closing laps saw Brad fight up to 12th after having a slow mid-race. It was a welcome return to the points for the South African.
Brad Binder now sits 13th in the Moto3 World Championsip with 50 points.
“It’s really good to be back in the points after four races. I’m really pumped. I would have liked to be higher, top ten, but oh well. We were pretty close to Vazquez who has been on the Mahindra all year and I think we can keep fighting with him in the final races. We’re making steps with the bike every time we ride it and it’s really great. I was able to pass people down the straight, which was nice. We obviously still have some points to work on but I’m feeling really good for Sepang now.”