Darryn Binder

Mandalika MotoGP Sunday Subscriber Notes: Indonesia Deserves Better, Why Confidence Matters, And A Surprising Rookie

As I wrote on Thursday, if there is one nation which deserves a MotoGP race, it is Indonesia. The fact that the President himself turned up for the race, (and actually hung around for the MotoGP race, rather than disappearing once the formalities had been handled) says plenty about the central role which the sport plays in Indonesia.

Indonesia may deserve a MotoGP round, but they deserve better than they got at Mandalika. Despite the fact that we had three races at the track, with three deserving winners, including an Indonesian rider on the front row in Moto3 and the first ever Thai winner of a grand prix, with Somkiat Chantra's victory in Moto2, MotoGP got through the event by the skin of its teeth.

Starting with the crowds. The fans who turned up were fantastic, enthusiastic and clearly reveling in the fact that they had a race in their home country at last. The official attendance figure was 62,923, but to paraphrase a popularly misattributed aphorism, there are lies, damned lies, and official sporting event attendance numbers.

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2022 MotoGP Testing Review: Yamaha – Already Hitting The Limit Of Its Potential?

In 2021, the Yamaha M1 as the fastest motorcycle around a grand prix race track. The evidence for that is clear: 2021 MotoGP world champion Fabio Quartararo. Quartararo had five race victories, more than anyone else, and five race fastest laps. He also had five pole positions, one less than Pecco Bagnaia.

So the bike was good, despite the chaos elsewhere making it look otherwise. Quartararo was the only constant in 2021. Valentino Rossi never managed to get his head around the new construction rear Michelins, and despite his protestations, was never the same after he returned from his bout with Covid-19. Maverick Viñales won a race, got another podium and a pole, but also finished last, tried to sabotage his engine, and left Yamaha after Austria.

Franco Morbidelli snapped a knee ligament riding a flat track bike, missed much of the season, and was still not fully fit when he returned. And the Petronas team saw a veritable parade of characters taking Morbidelli's place, culminating with Andrea Dovizioso, who is still struggling to adapt to the Yamaha, and to the Michelin rear tire he has never liked.

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What We Learned From The WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Launch

The setting for the launch of the WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team was genuinely spectacular. From the stunning Philharmonic Theater in Verona, Italy, and featuring a couple of doses of opera – a refreshing change from the standard MotoGP diet of electronica or metal – the team walked through the presentation of its riders, its livery, and its team management. The launch was let down by technology – though the Facebook feed was pretty smooth, the YouTube video was stuttery and barely watchable.

Not that it mattered all that much. Team launches, especially of satellite teams, are mostly dog-and-pony shows aimed mostly at flattering the egos of sponsors, and generating a headline or two on a slow news day. In that, it was successful. There was plenty of chatter on social media over the launch.

Afterwards, the media got to talk to some of the protagonists over Zoom, a technology that looks set to stay in MotoGP for the foreseeable future. And that did lead to a few interesting insights, some about the team, some about the state of MotoGP, and what might change.

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Valencia Moto2 & Moto3 Review: Neil Morrison Winners And Losers, At Cheste And In 2021

After a dramatic finale in Valencia, we look at the big winners and losers from the final race and indeed the 2021 season as a whole.

WINNERS

Aki Ajo

It’s quite the feat to manage two world champions in the same year. And quite another to have team-mates fighting for one of those gongs, as Aki Ajo did with Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez in the Moto2 class. But it wasn’t just about the Finn’s eye for rider selection. Up to the final round, the battling team-mates remained respectful without tensions ever bubbling over.

During the final round, Fernandez attempted to unsettle his elder team-mate. He hovered around Gardner in free practice, passing, sitting up, watching from behind. Even in the race, the Spaniard slowed the pace to make the Australian’s life difficult, back in the pack.

For this, Ajo has to take great credit. As Massimo Branchini, Gardner’s crew chief testified, “Inside of the box we don’t want fighting. Aki’s so strong about this. We have two riders that use their heads, and don’t create tension. We go to eat together. Everything is shared. Both guys are very clever about this.”

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2022 Provisional MotoGP Rider Line Up

The FIM today released the provisional entry lists for all three grand prix classes, which featured very few surprises. The biggest changes were among the riders who were forced to change numbers. Fabio Di Giannantonio switched from 21 (taken by Franco Morbidelli) to 49, while Marco Bezzecchi kept 72, Darryn Binder kept 40, and Raul Fernandez stuck with 25, the number abandoned by Maverick Viñales at the end of the 2018 season.

The most noteworthy, if not surprising, change came with the VR46 team. In previous lists of teams accepted to MotoGP and Moto2, the VR46 Racing Team were still using the name Aramco VR46, after the Saudi Arabian oil company. That deal has proved to be chimerical, and the team is now listed as VR46 Racing Team.

Provisional MotoGP line up for 2022:

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Algarve Moto2 & Moto3 Review: Neil Morrison On Growing Pains, KTM Tyre Choice In Moto2, Darryn Binder, And Keeping Raul Fernandez Happy

Another dramatic day of Moto2 and Moto3 action at the Algarve GP saw one world champ crowned, while another man took a monumental step toward his.

Acosta champ despite growing pains

There was something approaching skepticism with regards to Pedro Acosta in the autumn of this year. The Tiburon de Mazarron’s incredible start to life in the Moto3 world championship had raised expectations to such an extent that a recent run of results in which he scored 7th, 8th and 3rd places in just his 14th, 15th and 16th GPs could be considered something of a crisis.

But this showing demonstrated he had lost none of that spark as he swept to his sixth win of the season to become the second youngest GP world champion in history at 17 years of 166 days old, just one day older than record holder Loris Capirossi, when he swept to the 1990 125cc title in Australia. When it really mattered, Acosta showed the mentality and the brass of a champion.

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Algarve MotoGP Subscriber Notes: Real Bravery, Moto3 Madness, The Best Bike On The Grid, And Honda's Tire Choices

Seventeen down and one to go. Also, two down, one to go. That is the story of Portimão, in a nutshell. But the raw numbers are not what matters. The most interesting part is how we got there, and the stories that we found along the way.

But before we return to the fripperies of motorcycle racing, something that really matters. On Saturday evening, on the road which runs from the circuit to the harbor town of Portimão, a horrific accident happened. On a section of road which had traffic measure in place to control the flow of traffic leaving and coming to the track, a police motorcycle hit a taxi head on.

It was a massive impact. The police officer died as a result of the collision, and the occupants of the taxi, the driver and a journalist, Lucio Lopez of MotoRaceNation, were badly injured. Journalist Simon Patterson, who saw the crash in his van, and photographer David Goldman, who was driving back to his hotel with passengers in his car, both stopped and immediately rushed to the taxi, which had caught fire. They pulled Lucio Lopez and the taxi driver from the car, just before it exploded.

The right stuff

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Emilia-Romagna Moto2 & Moto3 Review: Neil Morrison On Raul Fernandez' Crash, A Marc VDS 1-2, And How Foggia Turned His Season Around

Sunday’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix hosted three dramatic races which each had huge ramifications for each championship. Here, we take a look at the big talking points from the Moto2 and Moto3 classes.

Raul Tumbles…

For 14 laps on Sunday, this really looked like the race where Remy Gardner’s Moto2 title challenge would come apart. After title rival Raul Fernandez crashed out of qualifying, the Australian had a golden opportunity to gain a much-needed grid advantage. Instead, he changed front tyres mid-session, saw two of his late times chalked off because of yellow flags, and by the third his front had cooled down enough it lost optimum performance.

Sunday was looking much graver. Not only was he mired in the pack, facing a Long Lap Penalty for taking down Somkiat Chantra when contesting eighth place, Fernandez was putting in the kind of performance that confirms he is the next superstar of grand prix racing. Starting from ninth, he was on course for an eighth win of the season – a feat no rookie had achieved in the 72-year history of the intermediate class, never mind Moto2.

The Spaniard’s own weekend had been complicated. If one was to point to a weakness in his make up, Raul’s riding in wet and mixed conditions would probably be it. But he gave no ground away to Gardner all weekend. There was also the small matter of his feelings toward KTM. Veteran Spanish journalist Manuel Pecino had reported the rider from Madrid, who turned 21 on Saturday, was “angry” in the extreme at the Austrian factory’s decision to not find brother Adrian a permanent seat in the Moto3 class for 2022.

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Yamaha Satellite MotoGP Team Finalized: Petronas Becomes RNF, Signs Darryn Binder

The Petronas Saga is nearing its end. On Thursday, Yamaha announced that from 2022, the RNF team led by Razlan Razali will be taking over as satellite Yamaha squad, and fielding as riders Andrea Dovizioso and Darryn Binder. The RNF Team has a contract with Yamaha for 2022, with an option to continue for two more seasons in 2023 and 2024. Binder has a contract for 2022, with an option for 2023.

This is the end point of a process which began at the Red Bull Ring in August, when Petronas announced they would be withdrawing sponsorship from the Petronas SRT team, forcing the team to completely reorganize. That also saw an end to the direct involvement of the Sepang International Circuit with the team, complicating matters even further.

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Official: Petronas Ends Sponsorship Of SRT Team, New Structure To Be Created

Petronas are to end their sponsorship of the Sepang Racing Team at the end of 2021. The news had been reported for a couple of days, but this morning, an official press release came from the Sepang International Circuit announcing the news officially.

Petronas had been title sponsor to the team since 2018, when they only had teams in the Moto2 and Moto3 classes. The next year, they increased the  budget to allow them to expand into MotoGP. Three seasons later, they are pulling out of sponsorship once again.

The consequences of this have yet to be announced. The team is set to make an official announcement at Silverstone, in two weeks time. But the team is expected to be reducing their presence in the MotoGP paddock to just the MotoGP team, closing their Moto2 and Moto3 teams.

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