Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) leaves the intermediate class on a high after taking his fifth win of the year – and third in a row – in the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana. The South African played his cards to perfection to out-duel his main rival for second overall, Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP), with the Swiss rider forced to settle for second on the day and third in the standings. Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) completed the podium on true home turf, the Valencian taking his eighth podium of the year.
Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) took the holeshot from second on the grid, with Lüthi up into second and Binder making a storming getaway to soon attack Navarro for third. Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Temporary Forward) was one big loser off the front row as he got shuffled down to sixth, but the field remained tightly packed for the first lap and for many it stayed that way to the end – including the battle at the front.
Two men soon emerged in the early stages, however: Binder and Lüthi. The duo, fighting over second overall in the standings, didn’t take long to take their duel to the front, with Navarro the man on the chase. A couple of laps later the gaps between the front three were pretty equal though, with Martin left heading the fight for fourth ahead of Manzi.
Lüthi, however, was turning the screw, and the Swiss rider was able to start pulling out another gap. But Binder was able to respond, and not too long after Navarro and Manzi, who had dispatched Martin, had closed in too. It was a concertina between two duels and a four-way fight, but Binder had a plan.
Leaving it late, the South African pounced to perfection with a couple of laps to go, then pulling the pin and blasting away to give himself a gap. Uncatchable, Binder crossed the line seven tenths clear for his fifth win of the season.
He also, therefore, beat Lüthi both on the day and in the standings overall as the Swiss rider was forced to settle for second, able to stay clear of the clutches of Navarro and Manzi. That duel got even closer at the final corner as the Italian looked to be sizing up a move and then tried to out-drag the Speed Up to the line, but it wasn’t to be and Navarro took yet another podium to end his season on a high on home turf.
Martin was fifth as he managed to fend off an Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) on the charge, with Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) not too far off the two ahead of him either and taking P7. Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) finished off his season in eighth, just pipping Fabio Di Giannantonio (MB Conveyors Speed Up). But the number 21 wrapped up Rookie of the Year with ninth place, with closest rival Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) in P13.
Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) completed the top ten, with a bit of breathing space back to Mattia Pasini (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2). Dominique Aegerter (MV Agusta Temporary Forward) was 13th and made it two MVs in the points, ahead of Bastianini.
Jake Dixon took fourteenth and rounded out his time with the Inde Angel Nieto Team with his best weekend of the season, with Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) completing the points.
Newly-crowned Champion Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), meanwhile, made a great start to move up into fifth by the latter stages of the race, but disaster struck for the number 73 at Turn 11 as he slid out of contention.
That’s it from 2019 and an incredible season of racing in the intermediate class. You could say it was a triumph, and it certainly was for the top three: Marquez’ points advantage was just three after the final race, with Binder’s brilliant win securing him second overall. Lüthi’s podium assured him third, with Navarro’s doing the same for fourth. Now it’s time to rest, test and repeat – so make sure to join us again for 2020.
Brad Binder: “I don’t know where to start, I need to say a big thank you to my team, things got really tough at one stage and we managed to keep fighting and stay focused. We didn’t get the job done in the end but to be three points from the winner is incredible . I just need to say a huge thank you to all my guys, to KTM…I’m so happy to have finished off on a high for them and I can’t wait to get started on Tuesday!”
1 – Brad Binder (RSA – KTM) 25’30.766
2 – Tom Lüthi (SWI – Kalex) +0.735
3 – Jorge Navarro (SPA – Speed Up) +1.045
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