MotoGP received a hot, humid and damp taste of India for the first time as round thirteen of the 2023 series made an inaugural visit to New Delhi. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rounded the fast and impressive Buddh International Circuit and watched Brad Binder and Jack Miller seal 4th and 7th positions in the 11-lap Sprint.
- Top four for Brad Binder who qualified 14th, started from 13th (due to an empty grid slot ahead) and fired back through the pack at the start. The South African was half a second from the podium
- Jack Miller keeps his nerve from 16th on the grid and through the lengthy rain delay Saturday afternoon to rise up to 7th and finish only seven seconds from the Sprint winner
- Pedro Acosta misses Moto2™ Pole Position by only 0.023 of a second as the category as Moto3™ experience Buddh in mixed and slick conditions
The Buddh International Circuit was a brand-new challenge for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and the KTM GP Academy. The former F1 venue last hosted a Grand Prix ten years ago but had been upgraded and prepped for the first ever visit by MotoGP in the sport’s 75th season. Extended sessions allowed the riders and teams time to get familiar with settings for the 5km and 13-corner layout and the hard-braking points as well as blend of technical challenges.
In hot and humid conditions Brad Binder and Jack Miller hounded the top positions with their KTM RC16s on Friday and with top speeds hitting 350kmph along the long back straight. Binder almost earned Q2 entry but a late yellow flag infringement saw his lap – which would have placed him in 4th – annulled. Saturday qualifying was a near-miss for the pair as Binder and Miller missed Q2 by fractions of a second. The outcome left them in 14th (Binder) and 16th (Miller).
Q2 was followed in the afternoon by the 11 lap Sprint but a half-hour spell of heavy rain meant that the track was patchy, damp and hard to judge. The schedule slipped so the grid benefitted from an extra 15-minute familiarization period. The Sprint eventually got underway and the Red Bull KTMs flew into contention. Binder hit the top five and moved into fourth with Joan Mir’s mistake. He plagued the rear wheel of Marc Marquez and almost passed his rival for the podium. Miller was also proactive. The Australian upped his competitiveness to run in the top six and was only demoted in the final stages.
MotoGP takes place over 23-laps and from 12.00 CEST on Sunday.
Brad Binder, 14th in qualification, 4th in the Sprint: “A great start, luckily! Happy with the progress we made today. Unfortunately we were caught out by the yellow flags again in qualifying but we have to be happy with the comeback. We made a fair few spots at the beginning but it was a tough race and I saw a few points where we need to improve for tomorrow. In general, I cannot complain. We started 13th and came back to 4th in 11 laps, so, solid.”
Jack Miller, 16th in qualification, 7th in the Sprint: “Quali didn’t go our way and the only goal was to get a decent start and pull it together. We know even more now where we need to improve and that’s always the bonus with the Sprint. I was happy with the progress we’ve made so far and hopefully we can continue in that way tomorrow.”
Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager: “Brad was very happy with the improvement of the bike compared to yesterday and unfortunately in Q1 we were a victim again of the yellow flag situation and his lap was cancelled. Starting from the fifth row wasn’t easy but he was already 5th out of the first corners. It was a great start and he kept the rhythm of the leading group. We’re not happy but we are satisfied with our work to get to that point. Jack did a great race also. He started well and kept the position. One of his best Sprints from recent GPs. It wasn’t an easy day because of the delay after the rainstorm and it meant we had to keep the focus for a long time, especially because we don’t have any experience at this circuit. It was important to feel the condition of the track in the damp. I think the whole team worked well and we made the best of the situation today.”
IndianOil Grand Prix of India photographs can be found HERE
Results Qualifying MotoGP IndianOil Grand Prix of India
1. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA) Ducati 1:43.947
2. Jorge Martin (ESP) Ducati +0.043
3. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati +0.256
14. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1:44.651 (Q1)
16. Jack Miller (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1:345.030 (Q1)
Results MotoGP Sprint IndianOil Grand Prix of India
1. Jorge Martin (ESP) Ducati 19:18.836
2. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati +1.389
3. Marc Marquez (ESP) Honda +2.405
4. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +2.904
7. Jack Miller (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +7.172
KTM GP Academy
The KTM GP Academy faced the same acclimatization process through the Moto3 and Moto2 classes. Moto3 were the first to circulate the undulating trajectory on Friday morning. The riders were also the first to sample Buddh in the wet after a mid-afternoon shower created very different track circumstances for Q2 on Saturday afternoon. By the end of the run it was Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Deniz Öncü who placed his KTM RC4 highest in the classification as he splashed along the asphalt to take 11th. Jose Rueda ended the session in 17th. Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Daniel Holgado suffered a crash and did not make it out of Q1 due to exceeding track limits on his flying lap, so he took 18th on the grid as teammate Filippo Farioli will launch from 19th.
In Moto2 Pedro Acosta, unsurprisingly, unlocked the key sections of BIC in fast fashion on Friday to scour the top of the standings. The Red Bull KTM Ajo man then blasted straight through to Q2 and during the decisive session to determine the shape of the grid, rode to the 2nd fastest lap. Pedro was denied Pole Position by a marginal 0.023 of a second. Albert Arenas had recovered sufficiently from the left shoulder issue that had affected his previous Grand Prix in San Marino. The Spaniard was able to ride to the final spot on the grid.
Results Qualifying Moto3 IndianOil Grand Prix of India
1. Jaume Masia (ESP) Honda 2:09.336
2. Matteo Bertelle (ITA) Honda +0.727
3. Ayumu Sasaki (JPN) Husqvarna +0.768
11. Deniz Öncü (TUR), Red Bull KTM Ajo +1.946
17. Jose Rueda (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +4.845
19. Daniel Holgado (ESP) Red Bull KTM Tech3 2:00.041 (Q1)
20. Filippo Farioli (ITA) Red Bull KTM Tech3 2:00.237 (Q1)
Results Qualifying Moto2 IndianOil Grand Prix of India
1. Jake Dixon (GBR) 2:01.924
2. Pedro Acosta (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.032
3. Sergio Garcia (ESP) +0.268
29. Albert Arenas (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo 2:05.562 (Q1)