Binder and Red Bull KTM had arguably their best year yet with the South African rider finishing fourth in the world riders’ championship, while the team finished second in the constructors’ championship. In both categories they finished behind the Italian motorbike manufacturer and their gang of riders.
Nevertheless, Binder and his team were the only unit that dared to threaten Ducati on a consistent basis.
They untimely lacked the firepower to do so with a first-place finish eluding them in the main event, but did manage to score a handful of victories in the sprints on Saturday.
The 28-year-old also claimed five podiums on race day, including a third place in the season-ending Valencia GP this weekend after Fabio di Giannantonio was demoted to fourth. Overall, Binder finished in the top 15 in 15 of the 20 events, collecting 293 points – 174 points behind eventual champion Francesco Bagnaia.
Ducati remain the undoubted superpower in the sport, but KTM have an impressive base to build on towards next season. After the race on Sunday, Binder briefly summarised the year behind him, his thoughts striking a positive tone.
“A third place is a third place,” Binder said after the Valencia GP, “even if we didn’t actually go to the podium. I gave away a couple of podiums this year, so I know it’s not fun. “Anyway, quite cool to finish in third after coming close. I took an unneeded long lap but did well to save the crash because the front tire had been cooling down.
“A tricky day. I tried to fight my way back through but had no rear tire left at the end.
“We won two sprints this year but it would have been good to sign off with a main victory. We just need a little bit more in this off-season to fight ...
“We’ve made a big step this year and there’s more to come.”
KTM team manager Francesco Guidotti could only agree with that assessment: “It was a great season in that we improved the bike, and the riders put themselves in a position where they could change styles to suit it.
“It was a very intense calendar and, overall, we’re happy with fourth in the championship with Brad and second in constructors but this is just a step. I was impressed by how much we could improve in just one season, especially qualifying, and we know there is a little bit more to do if we want the championship.
“Third place was good after leading the race. We can see the level of this category: just one little thing can really change the results.
“So, we have to put everything together lap by lap to achieve the target. It’s difficult but we recovered a lot this year. We will try again in 2024 and we will keep the focus.”
With the 2023 season wrapped up, preparations for the next edition have already started with teams testing this week in Valencia.
The big question is whether Binder and KTM will find the missing pieces to secure victory in 2024.