Brad Binder says he is satisfied to bag his first top ten result since Austria in the European Grand Prix, despite having to serve an early long-lap penalty.
The South African has struggled for form since securing a shock debut MotoGP victory in only his third start in the Czech GP at Brno, while a clumsy incident with Jack Miller at the start of the Alcaniz GP left him with a long-lap penalty to take before the first Valencia encounter even began.
KTM benefitted from the lack of dry running ahead of the 27-lap encounter though after its rivals lost their opportunity to dial in their machines, allowing team-mate Pol Espargaro to remain glued to the rear of the leading Suzuki’s while Binder carved his way through the field.
He ultimately took the chequered flag seventh despite the long-lap penalty, while Binder also revealed he lost further time having to avoid a crashing Cal Crutchlow shortly after serving his punishment.
Binder posted the fastest lap of the race late on as he flew through the pack, proving he could well have been in the conversation for at least a rostrum finish should he have enjoyed a cleaner event.
The ’16 Moto3 world champion says he “didn’t feel it was worth getting involved” in any fights early on due to his penalty, adding he was lucky to “narrowly” avoid Crutchlow’s Honda as the machine slid in front of him shortly after serving his punishment.
“We have to be happy with the way today went, I didn’t get such a bad start but I was hesitant to fight with the others at the beginning knowing I had a long-lap penalty coming,” explained Binder.
“I didn’t feel it was worth getting involved in the others’ race too much, the long-lap penalty didn’t actually cost too much time, maybe only 2.5 seconds but not much more.
“After that everything was quite good, I caught back up to the small group of guys in front of me just before Cal (Crutchlow) crashed, and unfortunately his bike slid in front of me and I just narrowly missed it and stayed on track.
“After that I lost another couple seconds, so we have to be happy with the way it went afterwards, we had really good pace-especially at the end-so I think we just need to take the positives and have a cleaner race next week.”
Binder says it was “pretty stressful” trying to choose which tyres to start the European GP on, though ultimately was “really glad” to follow his team-mate’s lead and opt for the hard compound front tyre.
“It was pretty stressful trying to choose which tyres to go with, luckily I have a great team behind me and the guys have a lot of experience,” continued Binder.
“Just before the start they came to me and said it was best to go with the hard front, and I’m really glad we did because it definitely worked better for me than the feeling I had in warm-up.
“That was a positive step, and all-in-all I had a really good bike today, it felt great and it’s just nice to finish a race again because we’ve had a few disastrous races recently.
“It will be nice going into next weekend knowing I haven’t got a long-lap penalty coming, but at the same time we’ve seen that things can change from week-to-week with everybody so I hope we can make an improvement and score good points next week.”
Binder re-took the initiative in the rookie of the year standings with just two races remaining following the early exit of previous leader Alex Marquez from the European GP, the gap now just nine points over the Honda racer.