Brad Binder has continued his affinity with the Phillip Island circuit with a slender victory over Joan Mir in today’s Moto2™ race at the Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix 2018.
After finishing second in last year’s Moto2™ race, this time the South African went one better on his Red Bull KTM Ajo machine by outlasting Spaniard Joan Mir (EG Marc VDS) by just 0.013 seconds in a race where title leader Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) finished well back in 12th position.
Binder appeared to be en route to a comfortable victory before a big slide at turn 11 on the final lap gave Mir a sniff, which set up a nerve-jangling run to the chequered flag.
Binder did just enough to hold on, and won his third race of the year in front of countryman Kork Ballington, who was a four-time title winner in the 250 and 350cc classes in the late 1970s and inducted as a MotoGP™ Legend at Phillip Island on Friday.
The South African has now won two of his last three races at Phillip Island, after winning the Moto3™ battle in 2016.
It was also a strong return to form for the 2019 MotoGP™ bound Mir, who was particularly ruthless under brakes.
Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP) took the final spot on the dais, just got the better of Augusto Fernandez (Pons HP40) and Lucas Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46). Fernandez set the fastest lap of the race with a 1:33.715.
Marini ran wide at turn four on the final lap, his chance of victory evaporating in one fell swoop, while Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pins HP40) crashed at turn 10 on lap 23 after out-breaking himself. He had started that lap in the race lead.
Aussie Remy Gardner (Tech 3 Racing) crashed out of sixth position on lap 13 when he was only one-second off the lead, and polesitter Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) went down early – continuing his wretched run of failing to convert pole positions into a podium finish.
Last year’s Moto2™ winner Miguel Oliveira was 11th, one spot ahead of Bagnaia in what were underwhelming performances from the usual front-running pair.
That means the world title battle between the duo will move onto Sepang in Malaysia next Sunday. Bagnaia is on 288pts, with Oliveira on 244 and Binder on 193.
Australia’s second rider, Bryan Staring (Tech 3 Racing), finished in 21st position, with Baldassarri the final rider home after returning to action after his crash.