KTM had a relatively low-key showing in Malaysia as the new MotoGP season began in earnest with a three-day test this week, with Ducati stealing the limelight with a series of record-breaking lap times.
Binder could put up no challenge to either the factory or the satellite Desmosedici riders as he ended up a distant seventh on the timesheets on Friday with a best effort of 1m57.365s, losing six tenths in relation to reigning champion Francesco Bagnaia.
However, the South African believes the test results did not provide a true reflection of the competitive order, having felt that KTM has made a step forward with the developments it has brought to the RC16.
“It was a pretty good final day and a pretty good test overall,” he said. “We tried a ton of stuff and on the final day we were trying a whole lot of different things as well.
“Throughout the day we started to narrow down what was working and what was not, and what we liked and what we didn’t.
“In the afternoon we started to find a little bit more direction for the future.
“So far, so good. Things feel a lot better than they look on the timesheets. “I think we have some potential once we put everything together.”
Jack Miller, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Binder’s team-mate Jack Miller ended up further behind in the classifications as he began his preparations for his second campaign with KTM, clocking a time of 1m57.851s en route to 14th place in the final order.
Miller said he felt more confident on the RC16 compared to the beginning of 2023, but believes there is still room to get performance out of the bike before the first round in Qatar next month.
“The bike is working pretty well,” he said after the Sepang test. “I’m really happy with the improvements we have made throughout the winter.
“Fastest lap I’ve done really, at 57.8, but still a second off the other boys, so we need to find a little more. We will find come race time.
“I feel a lot more confident going into racing this year already than I did last year. “We were able to iron out some of the things we needed to understand the package going forward.”
However, Miller had several unnerving moments on the bike due to a lack of rear grip, something he put down to electronics not working as intended.
He explained: “My weakness on Thursday, especially when I wanted to put a time attack together and trying to keep the rear in shape, was getting countless highside moments.
“There’s a lot of variables that go into this. Where there will be lean angle positions, you feel like you are riding really well and you start to kick the bike up and all of a sudden the grip goes away.
“It has all to do with electronics more than anything else.”