In Malaysia, as the new MotoGP season kicked off with a rigorous three-day test, KTM experienced a rather subdued performance, while Ducati hogged the spotlight with a string of record-breaking lap times.
Brad Binder found himself unable to mount a challenge against both the factory and satellite Desmosedici riders, finishing a distant seventh on the timesheets on Friday, with his best effort of 1m57.365s lagging six tenths behind reigning champion Francesco Bagnaia.
Nonetheless, Binder remains optimistic, believing that the test results didn’t accurately represent the competitive order. He feels that KTM has progressed with the developments made to the RC16.
Reflecting on the test, Binder stated, “It was a pretty good final day and a pretty good test overall. We tried a ton of stuff and on the final day we were trying a whole lot of different things as well. Throughout the day we started to narrow down what was working and what was not, and what we liked and what we didn’t. In the afternoon we started to find a little bit more direction for the future. So far, so good. Things feel a lot better than they look on the timesheets. I think we have some potential once we put everything together.”
Meanwhile, Binder’s teammate Jack Miller trailed further behind in the standings, ending up in 14th place with a time of 1m57.851s as he geared up for his second season with KTM.
Despite feeling more confident on the RC16 compared to the previous year, Miller believes there’s still room for improvement before the first round in Qatar next month. “The bike is working pretty well,” he commented after the Sepang test.
“I’m really happy with the improvements we have made throughout the winter. Fastest lap I’ve done really, a 57.8, but still a second off the other boys, so we need to find a little more. We will find come race time. I feel a lot more confident going into racing this year already than I did last year. We were able to iron out some of the things we needed to understand the package going forward.”
However, Miller faced several nerve-wracking moments on the bike due to a lack of rear grip, which he attributed to electronics not functioning as intended.
“My weakness on Thursday, especially when I wanted to put a time attack together and trying to keep the rear in shape, was getting countless highside moments. There’s a lot of variables that go into this. Where there will be lean angle positions, you feel like you are riding really well and you start to kick the bike up and all of a sudden the grip goes away. It has all to do with electronics more than anything else.”