South Africa’s Darryn Binder was the seventh-place finisher in the 2021 Moto3 World Championship atop a Petronas Sprinta Racing Team Honda NSF250R. Once the season wrapped up, Binder was tapped by the WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP team to join the premiere MotoGP classification for 2022 — a massive leap in that the Moto2 classification was skipped over. A Moto3 racing motorcycle is powered by a 250cc single-cylinder engine that makes 60hp, while a modern MotoGP race bike is powered by a 1000cc four-cylinder engine that churns out 250hp. Grouped together with four other rookie racers graduating to MotoGP in 2022, namely Marco Bezzechi, Raul Fernandez, Fabio Di Giannantonio and Remy Gardner, the South African has run between the top 10 and top 20 and has made steady improvement. He’ll start 23rd in Sunday’s British GP at Silverstone, which launches the season’s second half.
Q: How was your mid-season break?
DB: With five weeks off, I went back to South Africa for two of those weeks. I did a meet and greet with the fans and obviously saw my friends and family and just had a good time, you know? I rode motorbikes and messed around. It was great. Then I came back to Andorra and I’ve just been training like normal to get ready for the second half of the season.
Looking back on the first half of the season, obviously it had its ups-and-downs and whatnot, but overall, I just need some positives. I just want to pick up where I left off before the break and just keep building on it. At every race I learn more and more and I just keep on working at it and hopefully I’d like to try and crack into some top 10s and be fighting in amongst the guys, you know? I want to get closer to the top.
Q: You came to MotoGP straight from Moto3. Quite the learning process?
DB: Yeah, coming from Moto3, every track you get to you’re going 10 seconds quicker. And any reference that you had before, it’s gone. Literally every track that you go to you feel like you’re starting over again and you’re learning that track over again, because it is so different to what you previously knew. So yeah, even though by the end of the weekend you’re figuring it out and you’ve got that track under control and you’ve learned things about the bike, by the time you get to the next track, you start all over again because it is completely different.
Q: The MotoGP bike has to be something of a blank canvas all of the time as you’re constantly trying to both learn the bike and to dial it in for that specific racetrack. I mean, it is all on you and your 10 fingers and 10 toes to get the motorcycle sorted out and performing at its highest level.
DB: Yeah, for sure. There are so many things that play into it. Depending on each track with the grip level is like and what tire options you have that weekend, there are so many things to play with. There is the setup, the electronics. You’re just constantly trying to figure things out. I think once you’re good, it makes life a bit easier. Coming from Moto3 with so much to learn, it has taken me quite a few races to understand these things.
I mean, I love MotoGP. You’re at the top of the game, you know? The bikes are incredible, the speed is insane, I really just enjoy every moment of it. Obviously I’ve got quite a lot to learn, but I feel like I haven’t done too bad of a job. I’ve made a couple mistakes here and there but it is all part of the learning curve and I feel like I’ve still got a lot more to bring to the table. I’ve just got to figure things out and slowly put them together.
Q: How has the team and the communication within the team been for you? Going in a good direction?
DB: 100-percent. My team this year on my side of the box is all new. They’ve all come up from different classes and stuff, so there is a big learning of the MotoGP bike for them, just like it was for me. I’ve got a great bunch of guys around me and I really enjoy them and we get along just great. Slowly but surely we have been learning things together and understanding each other a lot more and we are definitely making steps forward. It has been a really good atmosphere in the box and I’m really happy with how things have been going.
Q: How are you going to approach this second half of the racing season and what boxes would you like to tick off?
DB: I’m hoping that I pick up where I left off and be right even amongst the guys. Right now I think what would make me happy is if I could crack a few top 10s. I feel like that would be a good job and obviously anything more than that would be great. So yeah, right now the goal is to just keep building up and try being among the top 15 and just chip away at it race by race.
Q: It really is astonishing how very competitive MotoGP is. I mean I truly think all of you guys are capable on winning races if all things were equal.
DB: 100-percent! It’s so close that anything that if any of the top boys just have a rough day, you’ll see all of a sudden that they’re right down there with you. Starting this year, there have been times where the top guys have been in the back right there amongst us. It just shows you that if you get all your apples together and get everything right, you’ll be right up there fighting with the guys. Yeah, it’s super-tight and with all of the rookies in the class, I feel like we are all heading in the right direction and we are getting closer to the top — I feel like I’m in amongst them and there to fight with them. If I can stay in amongst the rookies, that would be great. Let’s all finish as high up as possible.
Q: How’s your brother Brad doing? Does he lend you a hand as you guys travel the world together as MotoGP contenders?
DB: Yeah, my brother, he’s always there to try and help me. If he has any advice to give me, he always gives it to me. He tries to put me in the right direction, Yeah, we talk about the racing in general and about the MotoGP class and stuff. Obviously, we are on different bikes, so we can’t really compare too much but yeah, he tries to help me as much as he can and I always appreciate that. He just wants the best for me and I want the best for him, you know? We want to do as good as we can.