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6 hours ago
By motogp.com

Binder: The man who could be King

Red Bull KTM Ajo rider faces down his first shot at the title at MotorLand

As yet unused superlatives are running dry for Brad Binder's (Red Bull KTM Ajo) title challenge in 2016. With a 106 point lead as the lower class return to Spanish soil, the South African is so stunningly clear of the field with 5 races remaining that he has his first chance to win the title at MotorLand - a possibility so far only enjoyed by Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) in Moto2™ in 2015. Those odds were long, but Binder's chances are promising: if he leaves the track with a more than 100 point advantage, he is world champion.

So what does that mean? Chiefly, as a rider who races to win and has continued to do so despite weighing up the risks in his title campaign, it means that if Binder wins the race or comes second, he will be crowned. If closest challenger Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) wins and Binder is third or lower, he won't. More than that, it's about the points.

In a big challenge for Bastianini, if the gap is 100 points exactly and the 'Beast' takes the victory in Aragon, the South African will have to wait - but the Italian would have to win every single remaining race of the season, and Binder would have to suffer a DNF or DNS. Bastianini did begin from pole at Aragon in 2015 however - and then crashed out on the last lap. With Brad Binder.

There are also others waiting in the wings. No rider on the current Moto3™ grid has won at MotorLand Aragon, but one man has stood on the podium: Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0). Although the Spaniard recently relinquished P2 to Bastianini in the standings after a DNF in Misano, he is only five points behind the Italian and can still very much mathematically take the title. If Navarro were to win, the maths gets a little more difficult - although Binder still very much remains the man holding the best hand - and the EG 0,0 rider would then find himself with one advantage over Bastianini at least: he has won a race this season, his first, at the Catalan GP. So he'd have to win Aragon plus another three races to equal Binder's win count - and again, the South African would have to DNF or DNS in every single one.

Navarro has had a tough run of late, but even battered and bruised he is sure to push at the limit on home soil. However, the Spaniard dislocated his shoulder in Misano - so he'll have to pass a medical on Thursday before being allowed to take part in the weekend. In addition, Honda have not yet won at MotorLand Aragon - although they came incredibly close in 2014 when Alex Marquez crossed the line only 0.057 behind the victor.

Whilst the title fight whets appetites and primes calculators up and down pitlane, the race itself is sure to thrill once again. After an uncharacteristic-for-Moto3™ duel in Misano, Aragon will surely see another freight train front group battling for the win. With Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) having been a frontrunner in 2015 and set a new lap record in the early stages, he could play a role, as could the season's superstar rookies - who have raced at the circuit in the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Championship. With a field fresh on the Moto3™ world championship stage like a lot of the class of 2016, the history books may have to open a few pages further back. Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) did the double in Aragon in the CEV in 2015, on a grid that also included eventual Moto3™ Junior World Champion Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) and EG 0,0 rider Aron Canet - and back another few pages takes us to Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing) and his two titles in the CEV. The Frenchman didn't race at world level at MotorLand in 2015 through injury - so this will effectively be a rookie weekend in Moto3™ for him.

And then there's Maria Herrera (MH6 Laglisse), who was the first woman to ever win a race in the CEV, and she did it at MotorLand Aragon in 2013. A wildcard in the world championship at the same venue in the same year followed, before another top six finish at the track in the CEV in 2014. Last year in the Moto3™ world championship, Herrera lined up in P30 after a tough qualifying - and gained 17 places to score points in 13th.

The race will certainly be an exciting one as Moto3™ return to the old Kingdom of Aragon with Binder's throne there and waiting. And after a season like the South African has enjoyed so far, he seems unlikely to stumble on his way towards it.

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