Should MotoGP adopt the “superlicence” requirement to …

The news that Darryn Binder will make his MotoGP debut next season straight from Moto3 may not have come as a surprise given the previous weeks of speculation about it, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t. not generated a significant enough debate from top to bottom. paddock.

If you’re not in the know, here’s a catch for you: Binder, younger brother of KTM Factory rider Brad, will compete with RNF Yamaha Racing (née Petronas SRT) in MotoGP next season in a move that will see him move from Moto3 to the premier category.

Whichever angle you look at her from, she’s an interesting signing – not just for what she stands for, but for what it could potentially mean for young people rising through the ranks in the future.

Entering his seventh Moto3 season, Binder doesn’t lack matchday experience per se, but at the same time, he’s not exactly decorated with success. During that time, he earned just one victory and a total of six podiums in 115 GP starts.

This means he will have 117 races under his belt by the time of his MotoGP debut in Qatar next year. This actually makes him more experienced than some of the other riders who will be racing alongside him on the grid in 2022, such as rookies Raul Fernandez (60) and Fabio di Giannantonio (107).

Remarkably, he has actually started MORE GP events than 2020 MotoGP World Champion Joan Mir, who will also have 107 registered starts by the start of 2022.

However, these riders all plied their trade in Moto2 before getting their MotoGP shots, which makes Binder’s move so unconventional and in the spotlight.

First of all, any criticism of such a switch should A) not be directed at Binder, because who knows if he would get another MotoGP shot if he pulled it down and B) maybe should be held until that he can actually throw a leg on the M1.

After all, it might turn out to be a revelation… and it’s not like Razlan Razali and Johan Stigefelt are out of shape in the matter. Eyebrows were raised when he snatched Fabio Quartararo from the Moto2 midfielder for 2019… two years later, he became MotoGP World Champion.

Of course, Binder is already racing for Razali’s Petronas Sprinta Racing team, while Stigefelt is good at spotting talent beyond what’s happening on the track. He wouldn’t risk promoting Binder if he hadn’t seen something in the data suggesting he might have a flexible kid who is eager to learn how to transform into a superstar, much like Quartararo.

Even so, Quartararo – despite showing average form on mediocre bikes in a more spec-driven series – has at least had record junior results to indicate its true potential.

On the other hand, Binder has spent a lot of time in Moto3 for a rather modest return in terms of results and it is because of this that future rivals are more wary.

How would a MotoGP ‘Superlicence’ work?

Aleix Espargaro – a rider who never hesitates to voice his opinion despite his own rather dastardly ninth place record on the all-time MotoGP start list (195) but has yet to reach the podium – is certainly bewildered. by the situation, calling it “the strangest move” he has ever witnessed.

In his response, he referred to the idea of ​​MotoGP adopting a “Superlicence”, as it is used in F1.

The license in an F1 context was originally designed to prevent drivers with more money than experience (i.e. skills) from joining the grid, although this has become less of a problem over the past 20 years, as more stable finances dissuade teams from diving into ‘wealth in the talent pool’.

However, the Superlicence was revised again after Max Verstappen got his shot in F1 at just 17 years old and with only one racing season behind him. As part of the changes, it was determined that license credits would be awarded based on where they end in power championships with a higher value for more relevant series (such as F2 and IndyCar) compared to others (such as F3 and WEC). A driver must then achieve a certain number of these credits to qualify for the Superlicence he needs to race in F1.

For the most part he fulfilled his function, although it should be pointed out that in this system, the possible F1 champion Verstappen, as well as other former champions like Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen, would not have obtained their F1. debut when they had done if that had been in place at the time.

The point is, Espargaro believes this is a format that could work for MotoGP. The form this would take is subject to debate.

It would probably not be popular to insist that riders who compete in Moto3 do not qualify for a Superlicence without first racing in Moto2. After all, Pedro Acosta was being celebrated for a possible direct step towards MotoGP following his stunning 2021 Moto3 campaign, but it’s worth pointing out that this is his first season on the GP scene, so in theory. , he is probably less qualified than Binder in the experience alone despite their disparity in terms of success of the titles.

Depending on the distance traveled, Fernandez could also see his place in MotoGP called into question by the settlement letter, despite the Moto2 form which has not questioned anyone that he deserves his Tech 3 KTM shot.

Moreover, even the last two MotoGP world champions Quartararo and Mir might have found their debut frowned upon in the context of such a format had it been in place.

Then again, at a time when the FIM is forced to introduce minimum age limits due to concerns about accelerating rider development programs, a transfer from Moto3 to MotoGP may not send the right one. message of mature talent rather than raw talent.

Why Pure MotoGP Quality Is Binder’s Problem

The problem for Binder may have more to do with the current era of MotoGP, specifically how good it is and how close it is right now.

Indeed, there have been many examples in the past of teams deciding seats with their accountant rather than data over the years.

Well-heeled Christophe Ponsson made his surprise MotoGP debut with Avintia Ducati at Misano in 2018 and was criticized so much by other riders for his lack of pace that the embarrassed team dropped him from a second outing planned in Aragon.

The CRT era of MotoGP raised a question about the level of riders as an influx of new private teams meant a certain lean towards the richer rider, but the removal of this subcategory and the change by manufacturers to put their Satellite concerns under the direction of the factory mean that almost all the bikes on the grid are capable of winning, which means the riders have to be too.

With that in mind, Binder faces a daunting task with considerable attention and pressure placed on him… but his challenge is not insurmountable.

As Espargaro himself points out, Binder is tall and lanky, which has its impact in Moto3 where being featherweight in wake-dependent pack races sometimes has a bigger effect on results than just talent.

In addition, as the manufacturers have already seen with proteges they have signed for years as juniors, Moto2 does not always quite fulfill the mandate of allowing talent to shine. Indeed, despite an engine to control specifications and a largely identical chassis, there is a big disparity in the budget of the teams, an important detail that could make or break a career if a driver finds himself lost in the middle of the peloton in a series. competitive. .

Look at Xavi Simeon, Tito Rabat and Thomas Luthi, very experienced riders who failed in MotoGP because they were too tuned in to Moto2 style racing to adapt.

The greater variety of MotoGP makes it easier to see whether a rider is performing well, whether compared to a teammate or a factory team or other rookies. It won’t hurt to have his brother Brad, not to mention his ultra-experienced teammate Andrea Dovizioso who will undoubtedly provide his advice.

Additionally, there is an argument for MotoGP teams to make the most of a developing talent, which they can mold and evolve based on their gear rather than potentially being stuck with a square peg riding style. trying to fit the round hole of a motorcycle.

Time will tell, but if Binder can at least stay sunny enough and not finish last in every race, it could change the way teams view potential prospects.

If he doesn’t, don’t expect another Moto3 to switch to MotoGP for some time … if ever!


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Wiley C. Thompson

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