until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


‘Riding like monkeys’ – MotoGP 2022’s unseen first rookie scrap

by Simon Patterson
5 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

While the main action might have been going on at the front of the field in Sunday’s opening race of the 2022 MotoGP season in Qatar, there was another battle raging that got much less TV coverage but which was just as enthralling – the scrap not for 25 points but for one solidarity point back in 15th, as the series’ crop of rookie talent fought it out for the first time.

Mar 08 : A fairytale start to 2022 - Qatar MotoGP review

It was Tech3 KTM rider and reigning Moto2 world champion Remy Gardner who eventually got the honours, coming home in 15th – but separated from direct-from-Moto3 newcomer Darryn Binder by a mere 0.012s at the line.

Behind them, the others weren’t too far away, with Fabio Di Giannantonio only another two tenths back, leaving just Gardner’s team-mate Raul Fernandez to trail them, a second behind the Ducati rider.

In the early stages of the race, it didn’t look like the honours would go to any of them, mind you, with VR46 Ducati rider Marco Bezzecchi putting on the best showing of any of the series’ five new riders by getting himself into the fight for the top 10 until a crash that he described as “part of the learning process” – as he followed Takaaki Nakagami for two sectors “the brakes became very hot and the lever was very close to my hands, and when I braked I didn’t have to correct braking power, I used more the rear brake and because of this I lost the front”.

That left Gardner to take the honours, and though the son of former 500cc world champion Wayne did well to persevere through the whole race distance amid his ongoing recovery from a broken wrist sustained while training in January, he was still a little downbeat with the result after the race.


“It’s nice to get a point,” he said, “even if that’s not where I want to be! But for the first half of the race, I felt quite good. I felt quite fast, even if I was definitely struggling to pass guys here. I was expecting a bit more speed out of the bike compared to some other manufacturers, and that was a bit of a problem.

“But at one point I was behind Maverick [Vinales] and [Andrea] Dovizioso, and I could probably have went with them, but I had Darryn in between us and I couldn’t get past him. Unfortunately I lost that group, then kind of got stuck in the group fighting for last. But I managed at least to win my group battle.”

The fact that he got locked into battle with the junior of MotoGP’s two Binder brothers didn’t make for an easy race for the Australian.

Questions have been raised many times about Binder’s experience and his preparedness for the top level of the sport thanks to a relative lack of Moto3 success and a reputation for occasionally wild riding – and while nothing happened to warrant the attentions of the stewards during their encounter, Gardner says he’ll still be having a quiet word with the South African.

“He’s still riding it like a Moto3 bike,” explained Gardner, “all over the shop. He was coming back on line without looking, going all over the place. It was a bit of a disaster. Hopefully I can catch up with him and just have a chat with him. These aren’t Moto3 bikes and it’s not like we’re fighting for first place – we’re fighting for last and we don’t need to be riding like monkeys out there.

“We can have a bit more respect for each other. It’s normal; it’s his first MotoGP race and he’s jumped straight from Moto3, but hopefully I can have a word with him and it’ll be better in the future.”


For his part, Binder insisted afterwards that he hadn’t done anything differently from what he’s used to in the race – which in fact might be supporting evidence for Gardner’s claims, given that the approach needed for a 300-plus horsepower MotoGP bike capable of 360kph is slightly different from the way you ride a 55hp.240kph Moto3 machine that weighs significantly less.

But while there might still be plenty of homework needed for Binder before he fully makes the transition to MotoGP rider, it’s hard not to be impressed with him in Lusail. Of course, riding last year’s race-winning machine – and probably having an easier time than the other three struggling 2022 Yamahas as a result – he nonetheless delivered an impressive result for his own first time.

“I think I definitely learned more in 22 laps of racing than I did in 100 laps of testing,” said Binder. “This weekend has been difficult, I’ve had a few little issues in the sessions, and I had a nice little crash, so it’s been tough. I felt like I could have been a lot better in every session but just never got it done.

“The main goal was just to finish the race, to do the 22 laps and just learn as much as I could. I was a little scared going into the first corner, but by the end of the first lap I felt I was quite fast, faster than the guys around me, so I started making some passes. Once I calmed down a bit, it was nice to race with the other rookies.

“I saw on the last lap that I was 15th and I gave it a good go to try and beat Remy, but he got the better of me. But I learned a lot and I’m happy I got to see the chequered flag. I don’t know exactly what he said and I don’t know what he’s unhappy about. We battled in the race a load of times, and in the last lap I gave it a good go.

“Sure it’s only the first race of the year and we’re only fighting for 15th, but I wanted to beat him and be first rookie. I gave him a good lunge up the inside, but I didn’t ride into him or anything! It’s racing!”

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