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During MotoGP™ FP1 and FP2 at the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky, motogp.com pitlane reporter Simon Crafar was busy getting the latest gossip as the premier class got back into the swing of things after a three-week summer break.
Some of the biggest news during the summer was Brad Binder’s (Red Bull KTM Ajo) confirmed move to Red Bull KTM Tech 3 in MotoGP™ next season, and Crafar caught up with the South African who confirmed he’d already spent some time on an RC-16.
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“Yeah I mean it’s an incredible feeling, it’s a dream come true. From the beginning, when I was racing at home, the goal was always to get to MotoGP and next year I’m going to get that opportunity and I’m super excited. They gave me 30 laps a few weeks ago. It was awesome to ride a MotoGP bike, the speed was absolutely incredible, the brakes and everything, it’s completely different to anything I’ve ridden before for sure but it was so much fun, I really enjoyed it.”
Crafar then spoke to his future team boss, Herve Poncharal: “Honestly, I can’t tell you that I am not happy but I am super happy because Brad is a rider that I’ve been following since the Red Bull Rookies Cup,” commented the charismatic Frenchman. “If you look at what he did in Moto3 when he won the title, when he started last at Jerez but won the race and in Moto2, he is always fast, aggressive and positive. Brad is a really nice rider and has a ‘never give up’ attitude which is what you need.
“I believe Binder was already teammates with Oliveira before so I think it will be a strong evolution next year, they are both fast and nobody wants to be behind each other. We are in a very important history for KTM in the MotoGP class and we have a very important test here on Monday, and a very important home Grand Prix next weekend. I think now that we have a lot of pieces that are coming in the right places for the jigsaw, of course I am sad not to keep Hafizh.
“If we look at the 2020 KTM line-up, I think it will be an incredibly strong package and this is what you need. Dani Pedrosa is doing a great job and I’d like to thank him for what he does now that he fit. I spoke to Hafizh for quite a few races so it was not a shock for him when he saw the official announcement. He has done a lot for us since Jonas left last season, and it was clear from very the beginning that he will have the possibility to stay with us in Moto2. The ball is in his camp and I would like to have it announced next week so that we can finalise our Moto2 team by Silverstone.
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“Pit Beirer is a racer and likes to play with the carrot. He said that if he wins two GPs or more then he will have a go on the MotoGP bike and Brad never let him forget this. So, straight after the Sachsenring, he has been testing with the official test team and Dani Pedrosa. The technicians were more than happy and Brad was happy too.”
One team that has struggled with injuries recently is Lucio Cecchinello’s LCR Honda team. Crafar caught up with the Italian to see how Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) are fitness wise after both rode through the pain barrier at the Sachsenring.
“About Taka Nakagami I must say he feels much, much, much, better. As you know he had some ligament injury on his ankle but it’s 95% fixed. He still can’t run, but to ride the bike absolutely no problem,” said Cecchinello.
And regarding Crutchlow: “Yes, it’s fixed. His problem in the knee is also fixed, he had some ligament injury but it wasn’t a big as we first thought. By the way, he still has some small pain on his injured ankle from last year because for some reason the plate is disturbing him but this is how it is, he needs to live with it, he’s a strong rider so he will ride on it.”
A lap of the Automotodrom Brno with Simon Crafar & GoPro™
Crafar also spoke to Team Suzuki Ecstar Team Manager Davide Brivio to get his latest thoughts on Suzuki pairing Alex Rins and rookie Joan Mir.
“Yeah we had two races where we have a crash. Of course we're disappointed about missing important points and potential podiums twice but we are happy and positive because we are always fast,” reflected Brivio, discussing Rins’ crashes in the Netherlands and Germany.
“We have a very good consistency and we have many races where Alex is always fighting for the podium or for the victory. It's part of the game and part of the experience he has to make, we have to learn and we have to understand how to manage the races where we can have good results. A solid part of the route we are doing to bring Alex to the top level. Disappointed but happy because the speed and consistency are there and we can be competitive and we can be there again.
“Joan is progressing very well. Were happy about he progress, he had a very good start in Qatar, some bad luck in some races but now in the last couple of races he’s been consistent, close to the top group, closer and closer to the top group and this is very important because every time you do the race with the top riders, it’s where you learn the most. He’s learning, we’re very happy about the progress he’s doing and yeah I’m confident he can be there one day.”
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Brivio also spoke about Suzuki’s new aerodynamic fairing that has been debuted in Brno: “We try to improve the wheelieing of the bike but also without losing speed. We tested two weeks ago with Guintoli in Motegi and he had good feedback. We test again with Alex, but actually, we wanted to test it on Monday but we anticipated this run with it. We had a quick chat with Alex and he wanted to keep it so he has gone out again. We will analyse the data again but we will see.”
Another team testing a new aerodynamic fairing were Ducati. Crafar caught up with Davide Tardozzi to discuss what the Bologna factory’s aims are with their update: “We are testing mainly the handling, keeping the same downforce and acceleration but less downforce in the change of direction,” said the Italian.
At the beginning of FP2, Crafar grabbed Pramac Racing Team Manager Francesco Guidotti for a chat about the fortunes of reigning Moto2™ World Champion Francesco Bagnaia.
“It’s a strange situation because he started very well. Since that, we lost the way a bit. Especially after the crash this morning we did a long and deep meeting and we hope to find the way back as soon as possible.”
Tune in to Saturday’s action to hear more of the latest gossip from Simon Crafar down in pitlane.
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