Austrian MotoGP Race Results | Slick Binder braves it out to sing in the rain

Brad Binder survives a treacherous final few laps of the Austrian MotoGP on slick tyres to claim a shock victory for KTM at its home Red Bull Ring

Brad Binder - KTM Factory Racing, 2021

Brad Binder has taken a sensational victory for KTM on home soil at the Red Bull Ring with a remarkable ride completed on slick tyres in driving rain.

The South African man was the only rider among a lead group of six to gamble on staying out during the final four laps when rain began to fall around the Red Bull Ring.

Holding his nerve as conditions worsened, Binder was able to keep his KTM RC16 upright while those that did pit - led by Pecco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin - hunted down other foolhardy slick-shod riders to haul themselves back onto the podium.

An exhilarating end to a grand prix that had simmered in anticipation as dark clouds threatened to lob a curve ball into proceedings, Binder only emerged as a possible candidate for glory in the final five laps as he dragged himself up to a lead group that swelled from three to six as spots of rain became more persistent.

Indeed, victory looked to be heading the way of either Bagnaia, Jorge Martin or Fabio Quartararo as the trio diced it out on bikes with alternative strengths that ensured a persistent ebb and flow in the momentum.

For the most part though it was Bagnaia that held station up front after getting the better of pole sitter and Styrian MotoGP winner Martin on lap one, despite the Spaniard’s rocketship start from the line.

It was a lead he’d hold all the way to Lap 22 when he was briefly overhauled by Marc Marquez, only for the six-time MotoGP World Champion to hand it back on the following lap when he ran wide out of Turn 1.

However, Marquez used the corner to regain the lead on Lap 25 just as the heavens were beginning to open fully, with a nervy Bagnaia swamped on the run to Turn 3 by both Jorge Martin and an extraordinary Fabio Quartararo, whose incredible confidence on the brakes would see him sweep up the inside of both into the hairpin.

Nevertheless, by the time the riders - which now included Joan Mir and Binder having made up fistfulls of time in the increasingly dicey conditions - made it to sectors three and four the rain was falling heavily, prompting all but the KTM rider to dive for the pit lane to swap to wet-shod bikes.

Though the race had been declared ‘flag-to-flag’ before lights out - meaning the race wouldn’t be stopped if rain intensified, thus pushing the onus on riders to decide when to pit - it still left the leading five a sizeable 32secs to claw back in just three laps.

As such, it was a race against the rain as Binder led by six seconds over Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro and Valentino Rossi.

Alas, though Espargaro and Rossi looked on course for Aprilia’s maiden MotoGP podium and a 200th career rostrum respectively, they too were overhauled by a confident Iker Lecuona and Luca Marini who coming into the final lap suddenly appeared set for landmark results.

However, as they tip-toed at touring speed through the final few bends, they had no answer to the charging wet-shod pack behind led by Bagnaia, who weaved his way up through past the plucky gamblers into second.

His efforts weren’t enough to unsettle Binder though, who despite some heart-in-mouth moments as he tried to keep his KTM sunny side up even in a straight line, steadied his nerves through the final corner to cross the line a wholly unexpected winner.

A stunning win for KTM on home soil to end a difficult couple of weeks on a high note, the result marks Binder’s second career MotoGP win following his surprise Czech MotoGP triumph in 2020.

Despite running off at Turn 3 almost immediately after rejoining the track, Bagnaia sliced back through into second place for a welcome return to the podium, despite no doubt being dissatisfied at seeing his long awaited maiden win slip through his grasp

Even so, Bagnaia fared better than Marquez, who having gotten out of the pit lane before his rivals to set off in chase of Binder, dropped his Honda when he came back around to Turn 1.

Though not as formidable as a weekend earlier, Martin proved he can get his elbows out in both the dry and wet to complete his breakthrough couplet of weekends with another podium in third place.

Defending champion Mir benefited from the kerfuffle to score a fine fourth place, while Marini and Lecuona will be pleased to notch up career best results in fifth and sixth despite having run in the podium positions with only two corners to go.

A rider that hasn’t quite perfected his wet weather skills, series leader Quartararo nonetheless tallied up useful points in seventh position, a result that will be welcomed in light of erstwhile closest rival Johann Zarco failing to finish after crashing on lap 18.

Rossi held on for his best result of the season in eighth place, ahead of LCR Honda’s Alex Marquez and Espargaro, the Aprilia man dropping from second to tenth on the final lap.

An out-of-sorts Jack Miller paid the price for pitting a lap earlier than everyone else to labour home in 11th, while Danilo Petrucci, Takaaki Nakagami, Alex Rins and a recovering Marquez rounded out the points’ paying positions.

In the overall standings, Quartararo has extended his advantage at the head of the standings to 37 points, with Bagnaia now leading the chase in second from Mir, while Zarco slips to fourth.