Brad Binder has been announced as the new KTM factory rider for 2020 MotoGP season as Iker Lecuona will make his premier class debut aboard satellite Tech 3 outfit.
KTM factory team announced their rider line-up for 2020 MotoGP season with Binder joining Pol Espargaro after weeks of deliberations. It all started with Johann Zarco’s decision to leave KTM after 2019, instead of fulfilling his full contract.
He was then replaced by test rider Mika Kallio, who is to continue as a factory rider until the 2019 season. The Finn was in frame for a full season ride in 2020 but with the difficulties being faced by him as well, it swung the decision in favour of Binder.
The South African was announced to make his MotoGP debut for Tech 3 in place of Hafizh Syahrin but the Moto3 champion and Moto2 racer winner, now gets a direct factory KTM seat – crucially leapfrogging Miguel Oliveira in the process.
The Portuguese is currently racing for Tech 3 in MotoGP and is to stay back alongside new teammate Lecuona, who was announced to join the Tech 3 squad in Moto2 but instead will make his MotoGP debut for the satellite outfit.
Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsport Director, said: “It was clear that our plans for 2020 needed to change following our mid-season announcement. After some thought and talks we decided to move in this direction and let the young, hungry guys with good experience in the other categories of MotoGP show us what they can do.
“Binder is a rider that has made his way through the KTM structure and we have no doubt whatsoever that he can walk into the Red Bull KTM team and keep showing that same style and never-give-up attitude we have seen for a long time.
“Lecuona comes into the Red Bull KTM Tech3 team and we’re super-confident that Herve and his guys will be able to help and develop another rookie like they have done so well with Miguel this year. We know we are making good and exciting steps with our MotoGP project and with next season now fixed we can really start building up to this new chapter.”
At the same time, Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Team Manager, stated: “I’m super-happy with the duo we have for 2020. We had a long discussion about it but finally I think it is a good decision that KTM made. In Espargaro we have a very strong rider who has made good results for us and we’ve seen in the other categories what Binder is capable of with our bikes.
“He is one of the young kids that has come through the rank. It will be a big challenge for him but I think he will have a great future in MotoGP.” And finally, Herve Poncharal, Red Bull KTM Tech3 Team Principal, added: “My feeling is that this is the strongest 2020 KTM line-up we could have hoped for. We want to have four riders with talent, passion, will and that they will stick to the project.
“Personally I am happy to work with a young and talented rookie like Iker. This is the way to go for the future and we have seen that the same approach has brought some success to other teams.
“Let’s start working on 2020: we have the technical support and we have the right people onboard. I believe we will take a big step next year with both Miguel in his second year and Iker keen to show us what he can do.”
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Additional inputs from Duncan Leahy