Brad Binder has apologised to his KTM MotoGP team for “taking away two podiums” with carbon copy track limits penalties at Assen.
Binder had finished third on the road in both the Saturday sprint and the main race on Sunday, and was stripped of the podium in both cases.
And in both instances, it was an infringement coming out of Stekkenwal that proved so costly, Binder just touching the green paint on the inside of the curved outside kerb on corner exit.
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In both instances Binder had no issue accepting the penalty, but the deja vu particularly strung on Sunday.
“We did a good job today. Until the last lap. For that, I am extremely, extremely sorry to my team,” he said.
“Because I took away two podiums for them. They’ve done a great job, put in a huge effort. I am sorry to mess it up like that for them.
“It is what it is. And I’ll try to make up for it at Silverstone.
“The rules are the rules. And yeah, I feel like f**king braindead to do it again.”
On Saturday, Binder’s decisive infraction (when he was already on a warning for previous offences) came on the penultimate lap and carried a three-second penalty – the post-race equivalent for an unserved long-lap – that demoted him from third to fifth.
On Sunday, it was an automatic penalty for the infraction being on the final lap specifically, translating to a one-place demotion.
“Gutted for Brad today,” said team-mate Jack Miller. “He rode a mega race, especially on that soft [rear] tyre, we knew it was going to be a bit of a gamble, he made it work. To have it in the same bloody corner as yesterday…”
“Those bloody stewards,” Miller added jokingly. “But the rules are the rules.”
Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro, who inherited the podium due to Binder’s penalty on Sunday, said he had noticed the South African’s error in the moment.
“I feel very sorry for Brad, really, because it’s a stupid mistake and it cost him a podium, and it’s very difficult to achieve a podium here,” he said.
“But this is racing. I knew that I couldn’t overtake him – for me it was very difficult, I was not able to stay behind on the accelerations – so the plan was just to stay as close as possible, pushing him to the limits to force him to make a mistake. And finally he did a mistake, trying to accelerate earlier to protect the next corner.
“I knew perfectly. This is why I didn’t even try in the last split, because I knew that he touched the green. And finally when I saw it on the screens I was very happy. I feel that the team deserves this.”
But Binder – who had admitted on Saturday that he’d been adamant he hadn’t breached any rule before seeing the replays and realising where he’d erred – said he once again wasn’t aware Stekkenwal had tripped him up.
“And then we went out at Turn 1 and Aleix is pointing at the green. And I was just like ‘ah, whatever’. Then I saw the TV and I’m like ‘how did I do that again?’.
“It is what it is. It’s the rules. I touched it by maybe a couple of mill[imetres] again. But yeah. End of story pretty much.”
Binder’s penalty could’ve been a podium for Jorge Martin instead, given that the Pramac Ducati rider was just 0.009s behind Espargaro at the finish.
But Martin himself also cut the post-Stekkenwal kerb – more noticeably so, too – and admitted he was aware that if he’d gained position it would be taken away anyway.