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Brad Binder promoted to KTM factory for 2020 MotoGP, Lecuona to Tech 3

KTM confirms its 2020 MotoGP rider line-up with Brad Binder promoted to the Factory team as Iker Lecuona enters with Tech 3 Racing

Pol Espargaro - KTM RC16 Factory

Red Bull KTM Factory has confirmed it will promote Brad Binder into its works team alongside Pol Espargaro for his maiden season of MotoGP World Championship competition in 2020, while Iker Lecuona steps up to fill his spot at Tech 3 KTM.

There has been uncertainty over the identity of KTM’s riders after the shock exit of Johann Zarco only nine months into his two-year tenure at the Austrian manufacturer, with a number of names being put forward over the past few weeks.

However, in recent days sources close to KTM identified Spanish Moto2 rider Lecuona as the new favourite for the available ride. This has now been confirmed, albeit through a reshuffle of the KTM seats that will instead see him join Miguel Oliveira in the satellite Tech 3 Racing set up.

As such, South African rider Binder – who was due to make his MotoGP debut with Tech 3 – gets a direct promotion up to the Red Bull Factory team before he has even turned a wheel on the RC16, where he will ride alongside Espargaro in MotoGP 2020.

Explaining the decision, KTM Motorsport Director says KTM is putting its faith in a new generation of riders and giving highly-rated Binder the chance to flourish having been impressed by his efforts in Moto2.

"It was clear that our plans for 2020 needed to change following our mid-season announcement. After some thought and talks we decided to move in this direction and let the young, hungry guys with good experience in the other categories of MotoGP show us what they can do. 

“Brad is a rider that has made his way through the KTM structure and we have no doubt whatsoever that he can walk into the Red Bull KTM team and keep showing that same style and never-give-up attitude we have seen for a long time. 

“Iker comes into the Red Bull KTM Tech3 team and we’re super-confident that Hervé and his guys will be able to help and develop another rookie like they have done so well with Miguel this year. We know we are making good and exciting steps with our MotoGP project and with next season now fixed we can really start building up to this new chapter.”

Brad Binder ready to grasp huge opportunity at KTM

When Lecuona emerged as a likely candidate for a KTM seat, it won’t have escaped notice that Binder – as a KTM protégé – might have felt aggrieved to see a Moto2 rival come in and take a Factory ride while he remains at Tech 3, even if they essentially ride the same specification machinery.

It appears it hasn’t escaped KTM’s notice either and promoting Binder into the Factory team makes a lot of sense in a direct head-to-head between the two.

Binder has long been touted for MotoGP and his performances in Moto2 even after the deal with Tech 3 was announced months ago go a long way to justifying why his promotion to the ‘A team’ is justified.

He is the only rider to have tamed the unfancied KTM Moto2 bike in 2019, taking two wins and five podiums in total – only two other riders, including Lecuona have a rostrum on the bike this year – while Binder is mathematically still in with a chance of the title.

One rider who may feel more unhappy about this situation is Oliveira, who has shown flashes of fine form on the tricky machine and was at least match for Zarco before he jumped ship, even if injuries have hampered his more recent races.

In essence, the machinery between all four riders is the same, but giving Binder a direct Factory opportunity is a clear validation of its young rider programme. As Fabio Quartararo shows, thinking outside the norm can reap rewards…