Moto2 graduate and 2016 Moto3 champion-elect Brad Binder will be replaced by Italian Nicolo Antonelli at the Red Bull KTM Ajo squad for 2017, following yesterday’s announcement that the South African would join the squad’s new Moto2 project.
The Italian will join Dutchman Bo Bendsneyder, who will remain with the team following his success in the Red Bull Rookie’s Cup last year – and team boss Aki Ajo says he believes they’ve made the right choice.
"Although we will start a sixth season as Red Bull KTM Ajo next year, it is always exciting to begin another year together. In addition, we are very pleased to, once again, keep getting great results: The victories and podiums for Brad and the great improvement of Bo in his rookie year. Because of his work and perfect attitude at all times, I am very happy to continue having Bo in the team.
“I am, of course, very pleased with the rider who will occupy the place Brad has left behind as he moves up to Moto2. Niccolo is the right person for the job. He is a rider who has a method and a way of working that are very similar to Brad's, and to many of the riders we've had on the team in the past. I'm sure that they will form another great team."
And, with the successes that the squad have had in recent years, Antonelli says he also believes that the move is the right one for his career.
“I'm very happy to join Red Bull KTM Ajo because it is a dream come true. This is a team that has produced several World Champions and that has always fought to be at the top, so I want to learn a lot here next year. The aim is to fight for victory in every race, or at least be on the podium when that is not possible.
“I want to improve on what I've done in the last two years in the World Championship and will fight as much as I can to do this. It is exciting to ride a KTM again. I'm sure the bike is very different compared with that I rode in 2014 – even better – and I can't wait to try it out."