COMEBACK KID: South Africa's Brad Binder rode a majestic race to end his Moto3 career in style. Image: AFP/ Javier Soriano
Valencia, Spain - Brad Binder, Red Bull KTM Ajo’s 2016 Moto3 World Champion, wrapped up his Moto3 career with a sensational win on the Valencia racing circuit, after scrambling back from 22nd place to first in a thrilling 24-lap race.
Brad Binder led in a group of three KTM riders with Joan Mir of the Leopard Racing Team in second, and Andrea Migno for Sky Racing Team VR46 taking the minor podium place. Mir also picked up the trophy for Rookie of the Year.
Binder, who settled the title in Aragon before the series went to the three races in Asia, won by 142 points, the biggest winning margin ever in the small category bikes.
He started second on the grid but more or less inherited pole when rookie Aron Canet stalled on the line and had to start from pit lane.
Binder was in the top three in the two opening laps and then seemed to experience problems in turn six and dropped like a stone from second to 22nd place, also briefly pulling off to the side of the track before opting to continue the race.
Binder said: “Basically I’m not sure what happened. I opened the gas twice and the engine cut and the power came in again. It happened twice in two corners so I said, okay, something’s wrong.
READ: South Africa's Brad Binder wins Moto3 title
"I thought maybe I was dripping oil in the track so I pulled off to the side but it looked okay, so I carried on. I thought ‘now its over’ but I pushed so hard and tried to limit the mistakes. To finish my Moto3 career like this is awesome.”
The South African, who has had a stunning season with seven victories and 14 podiums in the 18-round series simply put his head down, consistently set the fastest lap times and picked off riders until he was back in the lead group by the 16th lap.
First to fourth
He hit the front in lap 21 but Mir, Enea Bastianini and Migno were determined to make it as difficult as possible for the 2016 champion to go out on a high note.
Then, in the middle of the scrap amongst the leaders, Binder went wide in lap 22 and slipped back to fourth place.
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His day was not done, though and he put in two brilliant laps to steal the lead back in the final lap.
Binder will remain with Ajo Motorsports in 2017 as he moves up to Moto2.
WATCH: Brad and Darryn Binder 'hangs out'
Results Moto3 Valencia 2016
1. Brad Binder (RSA), KTM, 40:13.777 min (24 laps)
2. Joan Mir (ESP), KTM, +0.056 sec
3. Andrea Migno (ITA), KTM, +0.081
4. Enea Bastianini (ITA), Honda, +0.147
5. Fabio di Giannantonio (ITA), Honda, +0.713
Final Standings Moto3 2016
1. Binder, 319 points
2. Bastianini, 177
3. Jorge Navarro (ESP), Honda, 150
4. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA), Mahindra, 145
5. Mir, 144