Brad Binder becomes first SA rider to win a MotoGP race
The 24-year-old started the Czech Grand Prix from 7th on the grid and worked his way up the field throughout the course of the 21 lap race.
BRNO - Brad Binder created a series of firsts as he won the Czech MotoGP on Sunday to make come true "a day I dreamed about since I was a little boy".
It was the 24-year-old Binder's first MotoGP win in only his third race in the elite division, it was also a first victory at this level by a South African and for the KTM team.
Binder opened his MotoGP account at the main expense of Italian Franco Morbidelli on Yamaha's satellite SRT bike and Frenchman Johan Zarco on a Ducati-Avintia who came third.
"My team put an absolutely insane motorbike underneath me this weekend," said Binder.
"I had no idea we were capable of winning but I had a feeling it could be good."
Behind closed doors on a hot and sunny afternoon, Frenchman Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha-SRT), winner of the first two rounds of the season and world championship leader, finished seventh to increase his lead in the riders' standings to 17 points over Spaniard Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) who was only 14th in the GP.
With reigning champion Marc Marquez still absent nursing a broken arm, Binder followed Quartararo in grabbing his chance.
Binder was the first rookie MotoGP winner since Marquez in 2013 and he was followed home by two more surprising front-runners.
For Morbidelli it was a first podium finish.
"It was a nice race overall, I started well, I did what was in my plan, to make my rhythm and don't overcook the tyres," he said.
Afer Binder overtook him on lap 13 and pulled clear, Morbidelli concentrated on preserving his first podium finish.
"I won't do anything silly and try to bring the bike to the end and catch my first podium."
Zarco started from pole but dropped down the field with a poor start. He held on to third despite disintegrating tyres and a penalty imposed for a collision with Pol Esparago which put the Spanish KTM man out of the race.
"He went wide. I was in, keeping the line and when we touch," said Zarco. "I did not expect it and I think that he crashed."
The officials judged the Frenchman was at fault and he had to ride a 'long lap' which meant following an outside lane on the big seventh turn.
"When I did the long lap, I expected three riders to overtake me. No one overtook and at that moment, I said, OK that can be good," Zarco said.
While it was Zarco's seventh podium it was a first for Avintia the team he joined after he struggled with KTM last season.
In Moto2, Italian Enea Bastianini of Kalex led from start to finish to claim a second straight victory and climb to the top of the world championships.
Britain's Sam Lowes was second while Joe Roberts of the United States third.
Another Italian, Dennis Foggia of Honda, won his first Grand Prix in the third tier Moto3 level earlier, while second placed Albert Arenas extended his world championship lead.
A second Honda rider, the Japanese Ai Ogura, came third for his second podium of the season.
The motorcycling caravan heads to Austria for two events at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg on August 16 and 23.
The MotoGP field will again be without the recuperating Marquez as well as Italian Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati-Pramac), who fell in practice at Brno on Friday and broke a leg.