Binder ‘really deserved’ double penalty despite mitigating factor
Brad Binder might have a reputation as one of the most aggressive but cleanest racers on the current MotoGP grid, but the Indonesian Grand Prix was an exception – as the KTM rider was handed two long lap penalties for irresponsible riding.
Those were handed out for collisions with both Luca Marini and Binder’s former team-mate Miguel Oliveira.
But while Binder was contrite about his actions after the race, in which he finished sixth, he also explained that his contact with Marini – which left the VR46 rider watching from the sidelines – was in large part out of his hands as a result of a mechanical issue on his KTM RC16.
Binder, who said he and his fellow KTM riders had been struggling with similar issues all weekend, said it was only when braking behind Marini on lap two that he discovered that a vibration from the kerbs had pushed his brake pads back in the calliper and left him with limited stopping power.
“Unfortunately I had a little shake in Turn 8,” he explained, “and when I went to pull my front brake, it came to my fingers.
“I started to panic, because I had two guys on my outside, and when you’re only getting five bar of pressure, you’re not stopping very well. I just stamped on the rear brake and tried to get around all the riders.
“The reality is that if you get a headshake [high-frequency vibrations] they open, and all I can say is that I’m very lucky that I still had a little bit of pressure. Had I had nothing, I don’t know what would have happened but it would have happened at a much higher speed.
“I’m really sorry that I ended up hitting Luca and destroying his race. I’m really sorry to him and his team for destroying what could have been a really good day for them.”
Binder went immediately after the race to find Marini and explain what had happened, which immediately sated Marini’s wrath with him.
“It was impossible [to avoid],” Marini explained. “I just saw a flash, boom, like this.
“But Brad came to my office and he explained to me everything. Now I’m less angry. He said that over the kerb he had a moment on the bike, and sometimes this can happen that the pads of the front brake are far away.
“This happened also to me this weekend. And I knew this bad feeling. It’s just bad luck, I think, in my case.
“So, OK, this is something I cannot manage.”
That issue, previously only a worry after big moments, has become increasingly common in recent years. Binder’s fellow KTM rider Pol Espargaro told The Race that it’s not only something that the brand has been battling with for a while, but was also the cause of his own race-ending crash on Sunday.
“We are having some shaking problems in this track,” the Tech3 Gas Gas rider said. “More and more today.
“They are not very big, but small and fast, and when I went to brake, it locked when I wasn’t expecting it. It wasn’t out of line or baking too late, just not the moment for the tyre situation. The pads are opening.
“I had a crash in Misano and I’ve been struggling with it all weekend. I’ve been complaining but we’ve not been able to do anything about it so this morning I changed the discs to smaller ones, to generate more temperature and to see if this would help. It helped a little bit, but not so much. It was one of my main problems this weekend.
“It’s happening more and more, and for sure my crash in Misano, on the Monday test, was due to that. I went to brake and had nothing there. It’s something that needs to be improved but already I know they’re working. What we have is already to help this, but it’s not enough. We need to keep working on it.”
While Binder might have had mitigating circumstances for his first penalty, he conceded he had no excuses the second time round with Oliveira, who was left deep in the gravel trap.
Oliveira was able to remount and finished 12th but Binder insisted this was not an excuse, as he accepted both them blame and the two penalties – which arguably robbed him of a chance to fight for a Mandalika podium.
“I was pushing too hard to try and come through the field, and when I had the moment with Miguel, I just went in a little bit hot and had to dive in,” he admitted. “I clipped him too, and really deserved both long laps. I’m really sorry to both riders and both teams.
“I had a little bit of an advantage on the brakes with the medium tyre, and by that time they’d started to overcook their soft front tyre. The marker that I was using was quite a bit later than theirs, and I didn’t anticipate it. When I grabbed the brake I started pulling towards them and decided I had to go inside to try and avoid.
“You’ve got a responsibility to not hit anyone on track, or to not put anyone else in danger. Especially earlier in the day, I’d had my brakes open there, but it hadn’t happened in the race and I thought my guys had fixed the problem.
“Unfortunately things like this happen, and I’m really sorry to them because it’s never anyone’s intention to create an outcome like this for anyone else’s race.”