The unlikely source of inspiration for the controversial MotoGP rookie
When it comes to Darryn Binder’s surprising and skeptical move from Moto3 to MotoGP in 2022, the only obvious comparison that comes up is that Jack Miller is doing the same to start his top-class career – a move that has proven initially tough for the Aussie but eventually part of a path to becoming a MotoGP favourite.
But while the Moto2 intermediate stage that Miller skipped is traditionally something of a must, there are also those who spent the bare minimum of time in the class before swapping it out for the larger category.
While the merits of Miller’s Moto3-MotoGP leap can be debated, spending just one season in Moto2 has clearly paid off for Maverick Vinales and Joan Mir, both hired by Suzuki.
Vinales rewarded Suzuki’s confidence with his decisive win, while Mir – who hasn’t even had a particularly strong mid-class campaign – did better by bringing him a title, just three years after contesting his last Moto3 race. .
When these examples are presented to Binder at The Race’s RNF Yamaha launch as a possible source of inspiration and optimism amid criticism (let’s be frank, very understandable), he is happy to agree: “As you say, look at the other pilots, like Jack jumped right in and he made it work. Yes, it took time, but these are very different circumstances for him. There have been riders, as you say, who have come through Moto2 in a year and jumped and been good.
But Binder has a more surprising pilot in mind to draw inspiration from.
“But it also gives me confidence when I look at Raul Fernandez – yes, he got very strong at the end of Moto3, but until these last two races he hadn’t done anything crazy, then he jumped into Moto2. and did amazing things.
Fernandez, as Spanish CEV Moto3 champion and Red Bull Rookies Cup favourite, had a much stronger pedigree than Binder for the Moto3 World Championship, and had proven to be a player to watch with some outstanding appearances in the category. before joining the paddock full-time – yet Binder’s point rings largely true.
It took Fernandez until his 38th start in Moto3 to clinch a first podium – and yet a year later he was making waves as arguably the greatest rookie in Moto2 history and battling KTM and Yamaha .
Although by that first podium he had established himself as a regular on the front row, it was quite the start of a largely unsatisfying rookie season with Aspar/Nieto – the team that would win the Moto3 title l following year with Albert Arenas – which left him 21st in the standings.
“For example, in Moto3 it was really tough because I’m a big boy, and with the weight on the bike it was really tough,” Fernandez told MotoGP.com. “I couldn’t eat anything.
“Later in Moto2 it was more like my class, I could eat but I couldn’t train like now, because if I gained too much weight later the bike wouldn’t be the correct weight for Moto2. .”
Fernandez is a prodigy that any MotoGP marque would probably take in the blink of an eye, while Binder is someone who – affable as he is – has yet to show he belongs in the premier class, with a only win in seven Moto3 seasons. The disparity in their times in the Jerez test at the end of 2021 is a clear reflection of this.
But that doesn’t mean Binder is wrong to see Fernandez’s affinity for bigger bikes as cause for optimism. MotoGP.com has Fernandez being 177cm tall and weighing 63kg; for Binder, it is the same 63kg against 175cm.
“I struggled a bit in Moto3 with my weight and height, so I think I fit a bigger bike better and should be more comfortable on that bike,” Binder said.
“And I have literally everything I could ask for on a bike, all the tools, I just need to learn how to use them properly. And I believe I can do it, and I can go fast.
Team manager Wilco Zeelenberg took a similar stance when speaking to MotoGP.com: “We know Darryn very well, we did a test in Brno. [in 2021] on a big bike, on an R1 [Yamaha], and he’s capable because he has the style to hang on to the bike and he also has the physical muscle to ride those big bikes. We made this choice because there is a lot of potential in him.
Zeelenberg also expects Binder, who will ride a 2021 M1 MotoGP bike, to transform as the season progresses, saying “we will see a different Darryn than the one we saw in Jerez”. [in 2021 end-of-year testing]after a few runs. But there’s also clearly an understanding that it’s a risky move – with team owner Razlan Razali, who wants to see Binder fight for Rookie of the Year honors against Fernandez, admitting it’s “a big risk for us, and especially for Darryn”.
When those words were directed to Binder by The Race, he said: “100%, it’s definitely a big risk to jump straight. It’s not always about how fast you can go in MotoGP, it’s about how long you can stay there. This is where you want to be, this is the pinnacle of the sport, you want to get there and stay there as long as possible.
“It’s a big risk, but at the same time, I could never refuse this offer, and I don’t really mind. It’s been my dream all my life, to ride a MotoGP bike, and it’s a lot of people’s dream, and there are a lot of people who can never live that dream.
“So I’m going to go out there and do my best, and as long as I know I gave it my all, I believe in myself that I have enough to do well.”