Slick Binder gambles to win Austrian MotoGP in the rain

Spielberg bei Knittelfeld (Austria) (AFP) –


South African Brad Binder won the Austrian MotoGP on Sunday after gambling not to change bikes when heavy rain began to fall in the closing laps.

Unlike his rivals, Binder opted to stay out on slick tyres and skillfully held off the field to win his second ever MotoGP.

"Sometimes you have to take the gamble and today it worked," said KTM rider Binder in the post-race press conference.

The Italian Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) swapped to his wet weather machine and passed six riders on the final lap on his way to snatching second place, finishing almost 10secs behind Binder.

Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing), who won last week's Styrian GP on the same track and started this race on pole, claimed a third podium of the season after also swapping bikes in the closing stages.

When the rain came down with four laps to go five of the top six -- Bagnaia, Marc Marquez, Fabio Quartararo, Martin, Joan Mir -- who were struggling to keep their bikes on the road dived into the pit lane to change machines.

Binder, however, gambled on his ability to handle his bike on the slicks in the rain.

"I was having a horrendous race before I decided to stay out and everyone came in," said the South African.

"The rear tyre was like nothing, every time I braked it would slide all over the place.

"When I saw it starting to rain, I closed up to the front group and I could see the guys were looking to go in. I decided at the last moment that I had to try when I saw the whole group pull into the pits.

"I got around more or less on the first two okay but on the last lap the brakes went completely cold and so did the tyres.

"I couldn't stop. No matter how hard I pulled the lever nothing was happening. I really struggled to stay on track."

- Quartararo seventh -

Frenchman Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) could only finish seventh but that did not prevent him from increasing his lead in the world championship from 40 to 47 points.

He benefitted from the fall of his compatriot Johann Zarco (Ducati-Pramac), who was running second at the time.

Zarco slipped to fourth in the standings, two points behind Bagnaia and the Spaniard Joan Mir (Suzuki) who finished fourth, ahead of the Italian Luca Marini (Ducati-Avintia) and the Spaniard Iker Lecuona (KTM-Tech3), who did not change bikes either.

(L-R) Ducati's Francesco Bagnaia, Honda's Marc Marquez and Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo could not stop Brad Binder from winning the Austrian GP in the rain
(L-R) Ducati's Francesco Bagnaia, Honda's Marc Marquez and Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo could not stop Brad Binder from winning the Austrian GP in the rain Joe Klamar AFP

Veteran Valentino Rossi, who is retiring at the end of the season, guided his Yamaha-SRT to eighth while six-time world champion Marc Marquez (Honda) came off his bike on the penultimate lap and had to settle for 15th.

The next round will take place at the Silverstone circuit in Great Britain on August 29.

- Spanish double -

Spanish rookie Raul Fernandez sped to a fourth win of the Moto2 season, closing the gap on his teammate Remy Gardner in the championship.

Fernandez (Kalex) produced a faultless ride to fend off race-long pressure from fellow-rookie Ai Ogura.

Ogura finished second to take his first podium in Moto2 while Augusto Fernandez took third for a third successive podium.

Gardner finished seventh with his lead over Raul Fernandez cut to just 19 points.

Another Spanish teenager, Sergio Garcia of GasGas, won the Moto3 event to narrow the gap on world championship leader Pedro Acosta.

Garcia produced a thrilling last lap to overtake KTM's Deniz Oncu two turns from the end, crossing the line just 0.027s ahead of the Turkish rider

It was the Spaniard's third win of the season which leaves him 41 points behind the 17-year-old Acosta who finished fourth on his KTM, behind the Honda of Italian Dennis Foggia.