Why a steely Darryn Binder won’t apologise for taking MotoGP chance

Darryn Binder is in no mood to give time to the 'b******s' that accompanied his 2022 MotoGP appointment with RNF Yamaha... and he is right to do that

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As ever, rookies provided an added curio coming into any MotoGP season but while many high-profile graduates often come with a weight of expectation from their time in the feeder classes, Darryn Binder has attracted a spotlight for rather different reasons.

The South African will become only the second rider of the modern era to make the direct step from Moto3 to MotoGP when he lines up with the WithU RNF Yamaha Racing team this season alongside Andrea Dovizioso.

He joins Jack Miller in doubling that statistic, a rider who - after making his debut in 2015 - is now considered a bonafide MotoGP title contender. However, he was also a regular race winner and Moto3 runner-up, plus his destination was the diluted 1000cc Honda CBR-engined LCR machine.

By contrast, Binder is going from around 55hp to 240hp in one swoop on a year-old Yamaha M1, after seven seasons in Moto3 that yielded just a single win… and something of a reputation for being a touch reckless in close competition.

While it is a status that had mellowed in his most recent Moto3 season, the announcement of his appointment - one that had already raised plenty of eyebrows - was followed by a proper faux pas at the penultimate Portimao round when he harpooned title contender Dennis Foggia on the final lap, allowing Pedro Acosta to wrap things up in that exact moment.

The well-documented incident - and the aftermath when an apologetic Binder trying to atone for his mistake led to some scuffles - sharpened the focus on the South African’s eligibility for bypassing Moto2 and heading straight to MotoGP.

Perhaps unfairly though, these have largely been critical of Binder himself, who justifiably points out he shouldn’t have to turn down an offer to ride in MotoGP because others don’t think he is capable. Indeed, he says the move to RNF Yamaha is a dream come true and refusing it would be foolish.

“For me it was a dream come true. Everybody wants to race in MotoGP one day so to get given an opportunity like this, you can’t refuse it. It’s the greatest opportunity I’ve had in my life so I grabbed it with both hands.

“There was obviously mixed feelings and lots of different comments but I’d be stupid to not accept my life’s dream, I’ve been working towards this my whole life and if someone gives you this opportunity you need to take it and make the most of it. I’m super happy to be going up to MotoGP, obviously like you said people have said otherwise and whatever, I really don’t care.

Moreover, Binder - whose older brother Brad competes with KTM - says he is letting the criticism wash over him, insisting he isn’t changing his mentality just to suit others.

“I don’t have a mental coach, I don’t need one. I’m a perfectly happy person, I don’t entertain b*******. So yeah, I carry on like normal. I approach this season like I approach any season. 

“Obviously I’ve changed a couple of things regarding my training, I had to step up in a couple of areas but I did a normal off-season. I went home to South Africa, been training a little more in the gym, but just approaching it like I would anything. 

“At the end of the day it’s still a motorbike, it’s got two wheels and I’ve got to ride it.”

Darryn Binder - WithU Yamaha

Why Darryn Binder is justified in taking MotoGP shot

While the ill-timed incident in Portimao went a long way to give cynics a warm smug feeling from their convictions, there should be some allowance for giving benefit of the doubt for Razlan Razali and Wilco Zeelenberg’s choice, not to mention at least giving him a chance to prove one way or another.

While Binder’s Moto3 results don’t exactly sparkle, it has become notoriously tough to make an impression in a category where there can be as many as 12 riders fighting it out for the win coming into the final lap. Consider it this way, no Moto3 rider wants to be leading coming into the final lap, such is the expectation that things will shuffle come the flag.

In these tightly-packed, low powered situations, it’s something actually very simple that really negates Binder’s killer instincts when it matters - his muscle and weight.

It forces him to be harder and later on the brakes than his rivals, which goes some way to explaining why he hasn’t been able to capitalise on evident pace. Indeed, he finished all but the final two races in 2021, a sure sign that he has form but something is holding him back.

Furthermore, we aren’t privy to data and telemetry, so it’s reasonable to assume Zeelenberg and now-departed team manager Johan Stigefelt - a known talent scout - saw something that suggests Binder has more to show.

After all, the last time they came together to do this, they promoted Fabio Quartararo to MotoGP despite middling Moto2 results. The rest there is very obvious history.

Provided Binder can keep the M1 upright and not get swamped by nearly all rivals having better machinery than him, if expectations are modest, he is in a good position to exceed them.

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