The speed and spiral of the magnificent Phillip Island circuit was the stage for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder to thrill in a typically close and exciting battle for the podium. A cool and breezy climate in southern Australia greeted the Saturday schedule that saw the MotoGP Sprint swapped for the full-length Grand Prix race due to the stormy forecast for Sunday.
- The Guru by Gryfyn Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix visits Phillip Island for the 27th time and after sunny and warm conditions on Friday, the event gets cooler and cloudy for Saturday qualification and the full GP affair
- Brad Binder pushes the KTM RC16 to 1st place on Friday then 2nd in qualification (a personal best and his third front row start) and finishes 4th; 0.8 of a second from the win
- Jack Miller, a podium finisher at ‘PI’ in 2019 and a Moto3™ GP winner with Red Bull KTM Ajo in 2014, puts on a show for his many home fans with a hard-won 7th
- Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Deniz Öncü tries to mark the pace in Moto3™ qualifying with the KTM RC4 and takes 7th. Moto2™ 5th position on the grid for Pedro Acosta
MotoGP’s continent hopping continued for the second week in a row and with the eagerly awaited trip to the state of Victoria, Phillip Island and Australia. The flowing 4.4km layout is renowned for the high speed streak of 12 corners as much as for the stunning scenery next to the ocean and is revered by both riders and fans alike. The notoriously fickle climate in the area for the time of year meant that MotoGP soaked-up sunshine and decent temperatures on Friday for Practice. Saturday however was cooler and windier and high winds and storms were predicted for Sunday. The organizers therefore decided to run the full 27-lap race in place of the Saturday Sprint: the first Saturday GP dash since 2015 and the Dutch TT.
Binder had already cast his line on Friday around the circuit alongside the deep blue of the Bass Straight with the fastest lap-time, less than two tenths of a second away from the lap record. Jack Miller basked in the spotlight of his home Grand Prix and his second in Red Bull KTM colors after he rushed to victory ten years ago at Phillip Island with a KTM RC4. The 28-year-old has Turn 4 named after him and was 2nd quickest on Friday for a KTM 1-2 into Q2.
Binder was again rapid from the outset on Saturday and recorded P2 for his third career MotoGP front row start – and a personal best. Miller was 0.8 from Pole Position and qualified 8th for the third row.
The Grand Prix started with Brad chasing Jorge Martin and trying to manage his medium rear tire. Jack was busy with his battle in the second group and pushed all the way to make the top seven. The final two laps saw a gripping tussle for the podium and Brad was part of a five-rider dispute that was split by just one second at the checkered flag. Binder pipped Martin out of the last corner to secure P4.
Depending on the conditions, MotoGP will hold a 13-lap Sprint tomorrow.
Brad Binder, 2nd in qualification, 4th in the race: “Really happy with qualifying…and the first 25 laps of the race! I felt great but was having a couple of issues in the faster corners when the tire performance dropped. I was able to work out a solution in the last sector and gained a bit more pace again. I was chasing [Jorge] Martin and not really thinking too much about what was going on behind me and before I knew it I went from 2nd to 5th! Anyway, I think we had a strong race even if that was not the result we wanted. We also made huge progress if we look at how we went here last year.”
Jack Miller, 8th in qualification, 7th in the race: “It was a decent Grand Prix. I had a bit of fun with the guys there. The bike was working good and I cannot complain. I felt I was losing a bit too much time in the last sector but then also struggling a bit with the front tire. I had to try and nurse it. We learned from that today. We didn’t really want that result at our home GP but it was a solid finish and we were not too far away from the front guys. Happy enough and happy with the bike. We have a bit more work to do but things are going good.”
Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager: “A Saturday race, a bit strange but we were ready. Brad showed he was in it for the win right until the end. It was messy! He was only a few tenths away from it which was a shame. Jack performed really well but maybe struggled a bit to overtake in the beginning. Once he found the pace then he was good. Overall, it’s been a great weekend: 1-2 on Friday and Brad was on the first row. We made a huge step everywhere compared to 2022. We should be happy…but at the same time it’s a bit bittersweet.”
Results Qualifying MotoGP Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix
1. Jorge Martin (ESP) Ducati 1:27.246
2. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0.416
3. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati +0.468
8. Jack Miller (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0.828
Results MotoGP Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix
1. Johann Zarco (FRA) Ducati 40.39.446
2. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati +0.201
3. Fabio Di Giannantonio (ITA) Ducati +0.477
4. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0.816
7. Jack Miller (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +9.283