Brad Binder was born 11 August 1995, in Potchefstroom, South Africa, and began his motorsport career in karts and was national champion aged just eight. Looking for a new challenge, he moved on to two wheels at 10 years old, and hasn’t looked back since.
After rapid progress on motorcycles in his native South Africa, Brad was accepted into the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup for 2009, and his talent shone enough over the next few seasons.
In 2010, Brad took three Rookies podiums and finished fifth overall – but his star moment came in Estoril in 2011 when he won the Red Bull Rookies race from pole to flag by a margin of 15 seconds. That year he also rode his first 125cc GP, replacing the injured Luis Salom in the RW Racing GP team. Brad’s displays and professional approach impressed the team, and he earned a full time Moto3 ride with them for 2012.
In 2012 Brad competed in the Moto3™ championship for the RW Racing GP Team full-time, where he finished the year 21st. He ran with Ambrogio Racing in 2013 and improved his ranking to 13th overall; staying with the team in 2014 and riding a Mahindra machine again – reaching the podium on two occasions.
His consistent improvement earned him a move to the respected Red Bull KTM Ajo team for 2015 and his improvement continued, ending the year in sixth and scoring four podiums, including a second place in Malaysia.
For 2016 he and the Ajo team remained together as they attempted to return the Moto3™ title in KTM. The South African took his first Moto3™ victory in Jerez in 2016 under exceptional circumstances – demoted to the back of the grid for a technical infringement, the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider stormed back through the field from last to reach the front group – and then disappeared into the distance to take his first win – becoming the first South African to win a motorcycle Grand Prix since Jon Ekerold won the 1981 Italian motorcycle Grand Prix.
The victory kickstarted the beginning of Brad’s dominance of the year that saw the South African take another four wins by the time the paddock rolled into MotorLand Aragon.
106 points clear by the third Spanish round of the year, Brad had his first chance to take the title at the Aragonese venue and become the first man to achieve the feat.
With the odds in his favour, the title favourite stayed calmed under pressure and raced how he knew how – to win – laying it on the line in the final corner and finally crossing the line in P2, behind title rival Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0). The points haul was more than enough, and the South African crowned himself 2016 Moto3™ World Champion.
Brad is just the third motorcycle grand prix world champion from South Africa. He is the first since Jon Ekerold won the 350cc title in 1980, which followed Kork Ballington winning the 350cc and 250cc titles in both ‘78 and ‘79.
His gap over his nearest title rival of 142 points is a new record for margin of victory in the lightweight class.
Brad remained with the Ajo Motorsports team in 2017, stepping up to the Moto2 World Championship with the Factory KTM outfit. He continued to race for the squad through 2018 and 2019.
Brad eventually missed out on the 2019 Moto2 title by just three points but he moved up to Red Bull KTM Factory Racing as one of the most exciting talents on the MotoGPgrid in 2020. And he did not disappoint, taking victory at the Czech GP, becoming the first rookie since Marc Marquez to win a race. He didn’t quite scale those heights again for the rest of the season, but he did claim the Rookie of the Year award following a string of impressive performances, which saw him record four more Top 10 finishes and 11th in the Championship.
Brad added MotoGP win number two to his resumé during 2021 and did so in breathtaking circumstances. The South African rolled the dice as the rain started to fall in Austria and fortune certainly favoured the brave as he clinched his only podium of the season.
The number 33 ended sixth in the standings and matched that in 2022. Despite going winless, three podium finishes and some now signature Sunday surges through the field saw the South African’s stock rise yet higher. If the Austrian brand can produce a competitive package for 2023, Brad is definitely one to watch.