The Moto3 method behind the madness of Darryn Binder’s brilliant MotoGP bow

Why the substantial leap from Moto3 to MotoGP may in fact be helping Darryn Binder make his mark - rather than hold him back - in the premier class 

Darryn Binder - RNF Racing Yamaha

You probably wouldn’t begrudge Darryn Binder allowing himself to feel a little smug behind the visor as he returned to pit lane at the conclusion of the Indonesian MotoGP.

Indeed, we all love to exceed expectations in the workplace, but for a rider that came into his rookie season having to wince under the spotlight of intense scrutiny and been casually dismissed as unqualified for his MotoGP chance, Binder had every reason to feel satisfied with his gritty wet weather ride to tenth position in Mandalika.

The Darryn Binder tale may only be two MotoGP races old but the South African’s impact since he was first confirmed with the RNF Yamaha team for the 2022 season has written numerous headlines - both negative and positive - but after two races, it has arguably become the ‘feelgood story’ of 2022 thus far.

Two races don’t make a season, of course, but Binder’s eye-catching race day performances have certainly made their point… not only one directed at his cynical contemporaries but also one that could argue that it is because - rather than in spite - of his transition from Moto3 that Binder has in some ways adapted to life in MotoGP with greater ease.

MotoGP is the ultimate proving ground for MotoGP

One of the more interesting asides to come out from the fevered debate over whether Binder was worthy of a promotion into MotoGP was the suggestion that a points-based superlicence system similar in format to that used by the FIA and F should be introduced. 

At the heart of this idea was to essentially make Moto2 a compulsory ‘right of passage’ for any burgeoning GP rider, with the sliding scale of superlicence points weighed so lightly against Moto3 riders so as to render such a leap impossible.

However, while the 250cc Honda Moto3 machine is certainly a world away from the 1000cc Yamaha M1 Binder now calls his ‘company bike’, skipping over Moto2 arguably has its benefits for a rider still honing their skill-set.

Indeed, the ever-competitive Moto2 class is the ‘now or never’ GP class, where dreams of reaching MotoGP can come to a shuddering halt if you find yourself in the wrong team, on the wrong bike or you just happen to be the wrong rider at the wrong time. Many impressive talents have gotten lost in the Moto2 pack over the years, while there are numerous others to have faltered in making the occasionally tricky Moto2-to-MotoGP transition.

For Binder, the gigantic chasm between Moto3 and MotoGP means he can’t help but arrive in the premier class prepared to be flexible to adapt to any bike. So while his skin may have been stretching as he unleashed the M1’s full power in testing for the first time, having no reference points can have its benefits for the blank canvas of a nascent talent.

It won’t hurt the Yamaha M1 is generally regarded as the most forgiving MotoGP machine to adapt to, even if he is having to ply his trade on the sweet-handling but underpowered 2021 Yamaha.

Show a little respect or rubbing is racing?

Binder’s impressive opening pair of races may have won plaudits among fans and pundits alike, but his performances haven’t been so positively received by all of his rivals out on track, courtesy of his Moto3-flavoured style of riding that has been described as too aggressive on faster machinery.

What it has been though is effective, Binder’s admirable tactic of getting stuck into races echoing the gnarly pack racing from his Moto3 days. Both Remy Gardner and Enea Bastianini pointed the finger at Binder for inappropriate riding standards and urged him to calm down, but watching the South African digging deep in difficult conditions was at least entertaining.

Sour grapes from Gardner and Bastianini very possibly, but if Moto2 serves to smooth off the riding style for the greater good over time, ‘rougher round the edges’ Binder is refreshingly at odds with those around him.

So while Binder’s Moto3 origins perhaps make him an easy target and it’s hard to believe he’ll be able to sustain such an unpolished style as the season progresses, for now, it is the traits of that very series - elbows out, aggressive riding to negate evenly-matched machinery - that arguably gives him an unconventional edge in a tightly packed field.

Whether the edge remains sharp deeper into the season remains to be seen, but so far at least, not only has he rather embarrassed the highly-rated alumni from Moto2, he’s gone a long way to serving out some sizeable servings of humble pie too…