With the 2023 MotoGP grid filling up fast and two fewer seats on offer in the game of career musical chairs thanks to Suzuki’s withdrawal, it means it’s increasingly likely that surprise 2022 rookie Darryn Binder will find himself without first class seat for next year .
But, with a reasonably successful season under his belt, it may not really be a disaster.
When Binder entered MotoGP in 2022 on a Yamaha WithU RNF Racing, few offered the South African much hope of a positive year. An occasional Moto3 leader without a great regular record, he had scored just one victory and six podiums in 117 races – a record that did not suggest great untapped talent potential.
He was also contracted to make the leap straight from Moto3 to MotoGP – a huge leap previously only attempted by one other: Australian rider Jack Miller, who then spent most of his first three years on a Honda hard to ride. crash and get hurt.
It really is a fate that many have seen in the future for Binder, given his track record of inconsistency and his reputation as one of the wildest and most aggressive (on-track) characters in Moto3: not an easy feat in a championship notorious for hard riding, but you don’t take a nickname like “Divebomb Darryn” for nothing.
With the opportunity of a MotoGP race on offer, you can’t fault Binder at all for jumping at the chance. As he said then and has said many times since then, opportunities like this maybe only come once in a racer’s career, and history of those lucky enough to reject it and fall by the wayside as a result are reminded in the paddock never to look a gift horse in the mouth.
Perhaps the most famous of all these cautionary tales is that of 2015 Moto3 world champion Danny Kent, Britain’s first world champion since Barry Sheene in 1977. He was gifted a Ducati Pramac for the following season halfway through his campaign for the title, he rejected it. for the chance to stay with his Leopard Racing team and move up to Moto2.
Finishing his debut season in 22nd, he contested three races in the 2017 season before quitting his team, was released from another Moto2 team in mid-2018 and is currently competing in the National Superstock 1000 Championship in the UK, having also lost his 2019 British Superbike race thanks to a stabbing conviction.
And here’s the thing about Darryn Binder’s future: He may or may not have made the move that was somehow right for him in 2022, but the performances he has delivered over the first half of the year to pretty much guarantee he’ll have a Grand Prix racing career that will extend beyond the current season.
In fact, were it not for the crazy shenanigans sparked by Suzuki’s decision to retire from the championship and release Alex Rins and 2020 world champion Joan Mir to the riders’ market, there’s every chance Binder would be a shoo-in. not only to stay on the MotoGP grid for next year, but to do so on a very good bike indeed, as his WithU RNF team prepares to make the move from Yamaha to Aprilia.
Of course, he’s not quite up for rookie of the year, an award that already looks like it’s all but been won by the incredibly fast Marco Bezzecchi, who scored a maiden podium last time out at the Dutch TT. .
But Binder nibbled on scoring finishes, scoring 10 points in the first 11 races and, perhaps most important of all, crashing in just three of those races.
It’s a record that’s even better against the backdrop of his fellow Yamaha riders, with Binder tying teammate Andrea Dovizioso on points so far (a rider who team boss Razali says could fight for the title at the start of the year!), and sitting just two places behind factory rider and 2020 runner-up Franco Morbidelli in the standings.
It looks more and more like there won’t be room at the inn for Binder and Dovizioso next year. They are more than likely to be replaced by Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez as both make the switch from KTM to Aprilia – although the ongoing contract shenanigans with Fernandez could be the only extended 11am olive branch in Binder’s way.
Still, if he can’t hold on, he’s not going to be too tough. It is often said that the most difficult stage in Grand Prix racing is from Moto3 to Moto2 – something Binder completely bypassed by going straight to MotoGP. Still, skills learned in this do-or-die world will translate well to stepping down for the first time in the middleweight class, which Binder has previously said he’s more than happy to do.
“I expected to find out now,” Binder said of his future at Assen. “Until now I felt like maybe I had a chance to keep my saddle, but at the same time I know there are more cyclists than motorbikes at the moment, and obviously I’m at the bottom of the list for sure.. I’m not kidding myself here.
“At the moment, if that opportunity is there, I hope to know now, during this break, exactly what is going on.
“And yes, if the opportunity is not there then obviously I will have to look at what options I have in Moto2. That would be my main priority.
Given that he’s hinted at his true speed in 2022 while losing the recklessness that was so much the hallmark of his Moto3 riding, that means there’s likely to be a whole host of top teams looking for his signature.
The silly season has yet to really kick off in this class as the MotoGP grid is still sorting out, but expect that to change when the season resumes in early August at Silverstone – and expect to hear Binder’s name linked to top teams like Intact GP and MarcVDS, such is the strength of his 2022 campaign.
However, the most tantalizing offer could also be one of the most familiar opportunities for him, and could even offer a way back to MotoGP if things go well.
He raced in 2018 for Aki Ajo’s dominant Red Bull KTM team in Moto3, and with both his reputation for turning talent into results and with big brother Brad’s role as KTM’s lead rider in MotoGP, it might not come as a huge shock to see the young Binder back in the orange KTM next year.
“I think the team [RNF Yamaha] right now, I wasn’t expecting much more than I did,” Binder continued.
“Maybe I surprised them in some ways, because I think some guys thought maybe I was going to have a harder time than what I did.
“I’m doing my best, just trying to make the most of this opportunity that’s been given to me – and if it doesn’t work out, at the end of the day, if I can go to Moto2, I’ll always be happy, I will always ride a motorcycle.
“Even if I find out I can’t stay [in MotoGP], I’m really going to enjoy the second half of the year. I feel like I still have a lot to show. »