A modern day Moto3 racing motorcycle is motivated by a 250cc single-cylinder engine that makes 60 horsepower. A current day MotoGP race bike is powered by a 1000cc four-cylinder engine that cranks out 250 horsepower. While the differences are obvious, for the rider climbing aboard either a Moto3 or a MotoGP bike and riding it in anger? Well, that’s an entirely different story.
Meet Darryn Binder from Potchefstroom, South Africa. Aged 24 and the seventh-place finisher in the 2021 Moto3 World Championship atop a Petronas Sprinta Racing Team Honda NSF250R, Binder was tapped to graduate to the MotoGP classification for the 2022 world tour. A member of the WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team, Binder is grouped in with four other rookie racers elevated to MotoGP this year — Marco Bezzechi, Raul Fernandez, Fabio Di Giannantonio and Remy Gardner.
“I’d be stupid not to accept my life’s dream,” Binder said of joining his brother Brad in the premiere division. We spoke with Binder ahead of tomorrow’s MotoGP race at Austin’s Circuit of The Americas.
Darryn, here you are in Austin — do you like coming to the United States?
I do. I really like America. It’s actually one of my favorites to come to. I really enjoy it. Downtown Austin, Texas is super-cool — especially on Sunday night after the race. We have a lot of fun then! (Laughter) Yeah, I really love everything here — the food, the people, everything is cool. So, it’s just a nice environment around the track. And yes, this track is pretty unique. It’s quite a difficult one and I’m really looking forward to getting out there on the MotoGP bike to see what it’s like. You know everybody says that it is a really physical and demanding track on a MotoGP bike, so I’m super-curious just to get out there and see what it’s like.
We’re only three races into the 2022 MotoGP World Championship — what do you think so far? It’s been a mixed bag of results for you, but then again, you’re right in there and mixing it up.
Yeah, so I mean so far, so good, you know? Step-by-step I’m learning and understanding everything and I’m starting to come to grips with it. Yeah, it’s been good. The opening round and fighting for 15th position was good. Just missing out on it and just missing out on it and just missing out on the top Rookie result was tough, but we were right there.
With the Mandalika circuit race in Indonesia there were rainy conditions and it was a really good race for me. I managed to finish in the top 10, which I was super-happy with. Argentina was a bit of a struggle in the race, although I found some positive things in the practice and in the warm up. I felt like I made a good step forward, unfortunately I wasn’t able to show it in the race. Yeah, I’ve been learning and understanding and so far I’m really happy with how things have been going.
It had to be such a profound move for you to go from Moto3 to MotoGP. You have spoken about every race being a huge learning exercise in which you and the team learn basically something every time you’re out on the bike. Can you talk about that?
For sure. Every weekend we have to start over — every time you arrive to a new track on the MotoGP bike, you’ve got to start at the bottom and learn again. You know with some weekends you finish and finally think you’ve understood things and you’re happy, but then you get to the next track and everything changes again and you’ve got to start over. Yeah, right now it’s just part of the learning process and you’ve got to just keep on resetting every weekend, start over again fresh and just keep building up. Hopefully, soon enough I’ll be able to start understanding and being able to adapt a lot quicker.
What’s it like to actually race the MotoGP bike? The motorcycles themselves, the competition, the fierceness of racing at the absolute highest level in the world… A light year removed from racing in the Moto3 classification?
100 percent! These bikes are so fast and everybody is so fast in MotoGP that in the race, to get past the guys and not make mistakes is probably the hardest thing. You’ve got to be so precise when making passes on these bikes because when you’re doing 300 (kph, 186mph) and you just brake 10 meters (33ft) too late, you’re going to miss the corner completely, so yeah, it is definitely difficult to race against these guys. Everybody is at such a high level and everybody is so fast that it’s difficult.
It’s just astonishing how talented and fiercely competitive the entire MotoGP field actually is. I mean it’s as if any single racer can win any grand prix on any given Sunday, huh?
100 precent. I mean you can be, like, one second off and you can be in 20th place, you know? It’s so tight that a second can be nothing, but it makes a big difference because you can be first or last. Yeah, it’s so tight and everybody is just so fast that it’s absolutely crazy.
There’s an eternity yet to go as far as the MotoGP season goes. What’ll be your approach to 2022 as the racing season develops? More learning and absorbing all that you can as the season motors along?
100 percent. Coming into this year I’m just taking it step by step and trying to learn as much as I can every weekend. My main goal is just to be among the other rookies. There are five of us this year and if I’m in amongst those guys, I’m happy.
How is it globetrotting with your brother Brad as MotoGP racers? How cool — two brothers from South Africa traveling the world in an effort to achieve your hopes and dreams and to become champions. Such a commitment…
Yeah, I know it’s awesome to be able to travel with my brother. It makes it a lot easier because when you’re on the other side of the world and you’ve got a family member with you, it’s always nice, you know? You’ve always got somebody there and it definitely helps a lot of the time. So yeah, it’s super-cool to be able to travel the world. I’m 24 and I’ve seen a lot of different places and I’ve had a lot of fun and it’s just living the dream, really.
Absorb it and learn from it and take it all as it goes, huh?
100 percent. Every time you’re given an opportunity, just go out there and try and make the most of it and garb it as hard as you can and go with it.