Brad Binder’s wish list: The MotoGP at Kyalami

The MotoGP is on a summer break and South African rider Brad Binder was at the Kyalami racetrack on Wednesday to try to set a new record for a single lap around the circuit. 

Intrigued to see how a MotoGP bike would fare on the circuit, the media gathered to watch the KTM rider cruise around the track, pop a few wheelies and just maybe get a preview of what it would be like to see an international motorsport event in South Africa again.

Binder confirmed that he is hoping for MotoGP to come to Kyalami soon. With Formula One nearing a return to South Africa in 2023 after 30 years away, the rider may just feel that more doors will open for him to have a home Grand Prix in the future.

“I’ve been pushing for the MotoGP to come here. I’d like nothing more than a home grand prix and especially because I stay 35 minutes from the circuit, I can’t imagine sleeping in my own bed and waking up for a race day,” Binder said.

“I think we have the facility here to host a MotoGP race. So fingers crossed that we can get it sorted and I can have a home Grand Prix.” 

Although F1 is not yet confirmed for a return to Kyalami, it appears possible after F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali flew from Baku to South Africa after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in June to hold talks about a possible return to South Africa.

The Mail & Guardian reported on Wednesday that the big boss of the South African Grand Prix, Warren Scheckter, is hoping to bring the race to the country.

F1 will confirm the 2023 calendar when it goes on its summer break in August, and South Africans will be itching for confirmation on whether world class motorsport will be back in the country.

Binder believes Kyalami has the facilities to host both F1 and MotoGP.

 “I think it will be incredible. Not just for the country but for Kyalami as a racetrack and for the racing enthusiasts here in South Africa. It will be fantastic, but I believe that it’s not 100% done yet, but if it does get done, I will be here for it,” Binder said.

When it comes to the MotoGP, Binder understands it might take longer for it to come to South Africa but he is “certain that it will happen in the future”.

One notable concern with the circuit is that the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) still has it ranked as a grade two track; F1 events have to be held on grade one tracks.

Binder believes the constant upgrades being made to the Kyalami circuit will eventually get it there, but there are a few tweaks that still need to be made.

“Kyalami as a circuit is a huge part of motorsport in SA and has gone through huge upgrades over the last couple of years. The facility is amazing and it is truly an honour to ride a MotoGP bike here.

“The space we have here is more than we have on most tracks we race on. They will just need to work on some of the corners here. As the years go, the bikes and cars are getting faster and faster, so a couple of corners will just need some work, like turn two for example.”

Binder will continue to remain hopeful that he has a home grand prix in the future, it is the current season he is focused on now.

Brad Binder takes on the Kyalami circuit. (Footage by Eyaaz Matwadia)

The current MotoGP season

Binder sits sixth in the MotoGP standings. Despite a strong start to the season by finishing on the podium in the first race in Qatar, poor qualifying has hampered his hopes of breaking into the top three this season.

But the MotoGP has only reached the midway point and Binder is convinced that if he can tweak a few things with the bike and do better in qualifying, he can guarantee many more podium finishes this season.

“My goal for the second half of the season is to basically keep doing what we are doing. To make sure we make the best of our situation on the day. We are not looking for a lot, but if we can adjust a few things, we can go from where we are now to fighting for victories,” he said.

“Little tweaks need to be made to the bike with braking and turning. We were getting there last year and I feel like now we are there. We know exactly what needs to be done with the bike.” 

Binder is 21 points outside the top three but has a crown to defend on 21 August when the MotoGP visits Austria, where he was victorious last year. He could possibly close that gap if he performs in a similar manner this year.

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Eyaaz Matwadia
Eyaaz Matwadia
Eyaaz Matwadia is a member of the Mail & Guardian's online team.

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