RNF Yamaha’s Darryn Binder jumped from a Moto3 Honda to a MotoGP 2021-spec Yamaha M1 at Jerez on Thursday.
Binder’s first taste of the premier class came on Spec-A YZR-M1 machinery, showcased last weekend by Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli, and alongside Andrea Dovizioso in the newly formed RNF Yamaha - ex-Petronas - squad.
Despite strong winds dominating the Andalucian track and some minor technical setbacks, the South African racked up 49 laps before the late afternoon temperatures dipped. His fastest time of 1’41.749 sat him 27th in the standings by the close of day one, 4.4 seconds adrift of Takaaki Nakagami’s best, with Binder openly ‘living the dream’ and eager for more of the same tomorrow.
“Christmas came early this year for me this year!” Binder buzzed on Thursday.
“It's been a really awesome day for me. It's a dream to jump on a MotoGP bike so today I got my first chance and just started off really slowly step by step and it's incredible. The power! I had a smile on my face all day.
"It was going good, unfortunately we didn't complete as many laps as I would have liked to have today but anyway, step by step, just going slowly. The bike feels really, really nice to ride, I’ve just got to get used to the power and learn as much as possible and how to ride this kind of bike.
“At the end of the day, it's still just a motorcycle,” he said calmly, when asked if he felt like he was stepping into the lions den with his jump from Moto3 straight to the top class. “Of course the brakes are special and the power is insane but at the end of the day, when you get scared you close the throttle. So it's under your control at the end of the day. It was good for me. I felt like it was really nice. The bike is super nice to ride it's just, I think today was also a little bit extra tricky with the wind. I'm not used to a bike wheelie-ing down the whole straight and when it starts to wheelie and the wind catches you, it can be a bit tricky to keep going in a straight line!
“Right now it's just put in tyres and fuel, just doing laps,” he continued. “I’m not fiddling with the setup at all and I'm not using the ride height device or any of these things. I'm just going out there riding, doing a few laps and that was the main goal today, just to do laps. Unfortunately we didn't get to do as many laps as we would have liked to - with the temperatures at the moment, we can't start too early and you can't ride too late. Rather play it safe and go when the temperatures are good but anyway, tomorrow hopefully we can do a few more and just get faster and faster. That's the goal.”
Binder had an expert in his corner as the new stage in his world championship career began - his elder brother and Red Bull KTM rider, Brad.
“My brother's always obviously given me as much advice as possible,” he admitted. “Make sure you bring the tyres up to temperature and make sure that the brakes are up to temperature before you start to push and all of these things but apart from that, the biggest advice was just to take it step by step. Don't rush anything. Don't do anything silly in the beginning. Just go out and enjoy yourself. At the end of the day, my brother always says 'it's just a motorbike, you know how to ride a bike, just go out there. Take your time’. It's just the first test, take it easy and then learn what you need to work on over the winter time to come back and to be stronger in starting next season.”
The South African also had another master in his ear, teammate Dovizioso.
“He said to me 'just go out there, do laps and take it slow and build up’, Binder explained. “He gave me some ideas on how to ride the bike and what you need but right now the main thing I need is time, just time to adapt.”