Brad Binder wrapped up Friday at Misano with the best time. It was an excellent start to the weekend, after the KTM rider had not been particularly brilliant in the first appointment on the track named after Marco Simoncelli, like all the other riders on the RC16. The music changed today, however, and Binder was ahead of all his rivals, making up a provisional front row together with Nakagami and Quartararo, two riders with whom Binder fought in both Moto3 and Moto2, before meeting up with them again in MotoGP.
It's a situation that Binder really likes, the South African happy to again challenge the same riders on the track against whom he started racing back in 2012, when he took his first steps in the world championship paddock.
"It's great to see all these new names, I like it very much - commented Binder - I think that MotoGP has been really static for several years, there have always been the same riders, the same names. Now, however, it's nice to look through the standings and read the names of the riders I have been fighting with since 2012. There are Taka, Pecco, Miguel and Fabio, and many others. Mir, Alex Marquez. We all grew up together in the various categories, we fought against each other and now we are all here. It's really good, it makes the future fascinating for us. "
Finally you were fast with the KTM at Misano. What has changed?
"Things have improved a lot because we made a big change to the set-up that allows me to manage the braking phase much better. It also helps me to get on the gas early, and it will be fundamental in the race. It's a change we made in FP2, and we could see how good it was immediately because I was lapping at that moment with tyres that already had 20 laps. I immediately felt great, so I'm very happy. After that, I just put on fresh tyres to improve my time a lot, so tomorrow I know I will be able to fight because I have the confidence with the bike I need to push. Last weekend it didn't go very well, I really needed this step forward to feel more at ease. "
Why do you think the KTM has suffered here compared to other tracks?
"I think our difficulties here depend precisely on the enormous grip we found when we put the bike on the track for the first time. When I think back to Jerez, I remember that it made an impression how little grip there was in the afternoon. The same thing at Brno, where the grip has always been very low. I think this is the first track we’ve been to where there is no tyre drop from the first to the last lap. Some guys did their fastest lap in the last few laps, so this I think is the reason why we suffered compared to the others. I am sure that I have taken a big step forward, like the other guys in KTM. I think I now have the basis for competing in a different race. "
Today, among other things, the grip was even greater than in the race..
"Yes, the grip is even greater than last week, even more than in the tests. We have left a lot of rubber on the track these days, so it is normal that there is all this grip. From a certain point of view, now we also know how to take advantage of this extra grip and this will mix the cards up a bit for the race ".
What sensations did you find on the bike that allowed you to be fast again?
"Today for the first time I felt that I had confidence with the front of the bike that I didn't feel from Jerez and this is really fantastic. In general we are always working to improve the handling. The fact is that I had started to ride the KTM not in the way it should be ridden, while here I also started riding the RC16 again, exploiting its many strengths. This allowed me to ride strong today, I want to have this approach tomorrow as well. "
We saw you following Vinales on the track. Was that interesting?
"It was useful to follow Vinales on the track, I was able to observe him and understand some things. I could see how he manages to put together his fastest laps. It was really interesting to see how much speed he is able to bring to the centre of the curve, which is impressive. It’s difficult for me to do that at this stage, while in tight corners I was stronger than him in braking. It was very instructive to see how different the way he laps is from me. In any case I feel really good, tomorrow I think I can aim for a good position on the grid. "
In the championship you are still very close to Dovizioso. Do you think about it at all?
"To be honest, I’ve never really thought about it too much. For me, the important thing is to improve every time I get on the bike, go faster and learn something every single time I leave the pits. Each track is different, it teaches me something. At the end of the year, my goal is not to finish fifth, third or any other position. This season my real goal is to learn as many things as possible and then be ready and strong at the beginning of 2021 ".