If you wanted to drive a car or ride a motorcycle from Potchefstroom, North West Province, South Africa to the Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans in France, it would take right around 167 hours to cover the 7,585.4 miles.
It’s a hell of a long way to go, but worth it for 22 year-old Darryn Binder. Younger brother to KTM MotoGP racer Brand Binder and a member of the Petronas Sprinta Racing team, Binder is looking at the 2021 FIM Moto3 World Championship as an opportunity to reach for a higher gear and to further follow his chosen trajectory of becoming one of the best racers in the world.
Currently sixth in the Moto3 title fight after four grands prix, the season has been a mixed bag for the South African as two podium finishes earned at the first two events at the Losail International Circuit were followed up with bad luck and off-song results at both the Portuguese and Spanish GPs. Undaunted and keen to keep his 2021 campaign running at full-tilt, Binder will now look at Sunday’s 22-lap Grand Prix at Le Mans as an opportunity to get right back on track.
Q: After a four year run with KTM, you landed on the Petronas Sprinta Racing team this season to make a run at this year’s Moto3 World Championship. Thus far, it appears to be a very good and strong relationship. What do you think?
DARRYN BINDER: I’m really, really happy to be a part of this team. I mean, I’ve gelled well with all of the guys and with the bike, and I’m really stoked to be a part of them. To come into a team like this with such professional guys was just such an easy transition, you know? They know exactly what’s going on and they know what works and what doesn’t, so you just jump in, do your part, tell them what you need, and they are always able to provide you with exactly what you need.
Q: The results came right away. You left the first two Grands Prix at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar with two podium finishes…
DB: Yeah, 100 percent. Straight away. As soon as we had gone up to the first test, by the time I finished I had finished the first hour I was already feeling good. So yeah, we started we Qatar exactly the way that we wanted to, and it went great. But unfortunately, since Qatar, we’ve hit a little bit of a bumpy road.
Q: Yes, you were handed a qualifying penalty at the Portuguese Grand Prix and were forced to start the race from pitlane. You raced your way back to 20th.
DB: Yeah, unfortunately the rules are just so strict at the moment with regards to slow riding and stuff, and I just made a mistake and went off track. I did that and guys followed me, and they all slowed down and it created all this slow riding, and they say I caused it. From that I got nailed with a pitlane start, which wasn’t cool at all, and unfortunately what could have been a really strong weekend turned into zero, you know? I just couldn’t make up time from the pitlane start in Portugal. I tried my best and I just couldn’t make it, unfortunately. That one was real sad. It’s one thing to start the race from the back of the pack, but to start from the pitlane is just way too far. On top of that, I just had a bad race. I made a poor choice to go with the soft tire and it really just didn’t last in that race, so I did my best. I finished the race, but unfortunately I didn’t score any points. It is what it is.
Q: If not for that last turn pileup at Jerez, you very well could have won that race. Instead, you left Spain with zero points and the sixth in the point standings.
DB: Yeah, I mean unfortunately at Jerez I felt really strong right from Friday onward. Friday I felt good, and then on Saturday I had a big crash in qualifying, which was not ideal. I didn’t feel so good coming into the race on Sunday. I hurt my thumb and my lower back, so coming into the race in Sunday I felt a little bit fragile, but I still managed to be fast in the race. I was in that front group and fighting for the podium, even though I didn’t feel like I had that killer instinct in me to hang in there at the end, and I couldn’t fight as hard as I wanted to because I was in a bit of pain. But I was still there.
Unfortunately, I just had nowhere to go in that last corner when Deniz Oncu crashed and unfortunately I got taken out, so it is what it is, you know? It’s just one of those things where you’ve just got to take the positives and then go right on to the next one.
Q: You know you have the speed to not only run right up front but to even win. That has to be encouraging and confidence-inspiring for you, huh?
DB: Yeah, 100 percent. I mean, even in Portugal and Jerez, every single practice we were inside the top 10 and we were exactly where we wanted to be. I felt really strong. We’ve just had two unfortunate races, but the feeling with the bike and with the team and everything, it’s still great. We just need to get the racing thing back on track, so we are ready to go here at Le Mans.
Q: The French Grand Prix takes off from the starting line this Sunday afternoon. What do you think?
DB: I really like Le Mans. The track is super-cool. The only thing that I don’t like about Le Mans is that the weather can be gray, sunny, half-half, so we are just going to see what the weather does, but I’m really looking forward to this weekend. I feel good and my body has recovered well since Jerez, so I just want to go out there and get some proper points back on the board.
Q: Both you and your brother coming all the way from South Africa to travel the world and to try and become world champions is a tremendous commitment, huh?
DB: Yeah, 100 percent. It is so definitely worth it. Yeah, it was difficult in the beginning, for sure. My parents had to sacrifice a lot, and so did my brother and I, but we’ve very fortunate to be able to do what we love and to be able to come here, this is our dream. It’s definitely been worth it 100 times over. I love what I do, and if I can go and win a world championship, that would just be the cherry on top.