KTM turned heads at the San Marino GP earlier this month when test rider Dani Pedrosa completed the weekend as a wildcard on the new carbon fibre frame.
The 31-time MotoGP race winner finished fourth in both the sprint and the grand prix at Misano using the new frame, which was then tested on the Monday at the Italian venue by the race riders.
Both Binder and Jack Miller rode the chassis on Friday at the Japanese GP, which the former used to top second practice by beating the eight-year-old lap record with a 1m43.489s.
The South African says the new chassis has given him the rear grip he has been long requesting from KTM, but is “cautious” about the gains it has brought.
“Well, I think for sure the new chassis has given me a little bit more rear grip, which is something I’ve been asking for,” he said.
“So, it’s great to have that available and it helps you for sure. Grip is lap time.
“I think we were all a bit surprised about how fast Dani was in Misano – the guy was smoking us.
“So, yeah, for sure we realised they’ve [the test team] been doing a really good job in the test team and they’ve found something that works really well.
“It’s day one, so I’m a little bit cautious. Let’s see. I feel better, I feel I have a bit more opportunity to ride the bike the way I want to because I have a bit more rear grip.”
Jack Miller, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Miller will join Binder directly into Q2 on Saturday for qualifying at Motegi, but a crash on the carbon fibre bike forced him to set his best lap on the older chassis.
Despite this, Miller felt as good as he did at the end of the Misano test when did ride the carbon fibre chassis on Friday.
“Hoping on that new thing, it kind of reminded me of how I was feeling finishing on Monday in Misano,” the Australian noted.
“So, fingers crossed we can keep that going for the rest of the year. But it feels good, we’ve made a step.
“We’re able to challenge these guys again in terms of grip, and the areas we’ve been searching for we’ve made a decent step.
“Obviously, we’ve got a lot more work to do in terms of electronics.
“But in terms of mechanical grip, we’ve found quite a bit today and that’s definitely a positive for us, both myself and Brad.”