Red Bull KTM rider Brad Binder could well be an end of season joker in the 2018 Moto2 title, as he builds on his momentum from last time out and looks to disrupt teammate Miguel Oliveria and rival Francesco Bagnaia as the series heads to a new track.
The South African took his maiden pole and then his second win, and he could be something of a joker in the pack for the two men ahead of him in the standings: Championship leader Bagnaia and Oliveira. Binder is 90 points back from Bagnaia, but it’s not simply a duel that could decide the outcome of the 2018 Moto2 World Championship.
Now it’s time for Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand. As a venue new to the calendar and a venue at which the intermediate class haven’t tested, it’s a clean slate and everything will come down to who gets up to speed quickest and who can take the heat. Will that be Binder? Or will Bagnaia and Oliveira reassert their authority?
Last time out, Bagnaia took second but despite that, extended his lead as it proved a tougher weekend for Oliveira. The Portuguese rider once again suffered a more difficult qualifying and clawed his way back to seventh on Sunday. He’ll have an eye on the final few races of the year where he won last year, but Buriram is up first and the mission is to start turning the tables as soon as possible. The positive for Oliveira is having points taken off Bagnaia courtesy of the friendly fire of his teammate, but what happens if the South African isn’t just taking points off the Championship leader?
Mathematically, there are seven riders in the fight. Bagnaia and Oliveira are ahead, followed by Binder. Next up is Lorenzo Baldassarri, ahead of Alex Marquez, his teammate Joan Mir and finally, Marcel Schrötter, the last man in with a shot. It’s a long one, however, with the German 116 points back and 125 still on the table, but each and every one of them can play a big role. Will Buriram follow the form book of pace this season? Or does the Thai heat and new venue hold a surprise?