The spectacular horsepower haven of Mugello was the setting for round six of 2023 MotoGP but also another strong and competitive display by Red Bull KTM Factory Racing. Jack Miller blasted to 6th position in the Sprint at the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley after qualifying 5th. Brad Binder was 11th after suffering a Long Lap penalty but used the engineering of the KTM RC16 to clock a new all-time top speed record of 366.1kmph (227.4mph).
The sixth round of the current 2023 MotoGP series represented the 37th time the world championship has rounded the fast curves of the 15-corner and 5.2km layout. The essence of Mugello and the curling and naturally set nature of the track has remained largely unchanged over the years while the 1.1km main straight has not only provided remarkable MotoGP sights but also pushed the speed limits in the class.
On this stage Red Bull KTM continued their push. Brad Binder achieving Q2 distinction directly on Friday while Miller was 2nd fastest in Q1 to join his teammate. A late crash for Binder in Q2 meant he had to accept 11th on the grid but Miller pushed his way up to 5th, just 0.3 of a second from Pole.
When it came time for the Sprint, 11 laps were filled with typically close and tense action and as drops of rain began to appear around sections of the circuit. Binder’s decent start was ruined after blameless contact with Alex Marquez into Turn 1. The South African, who had previously finished 7th and 5th in his two MotoGP forays at Mugello, had to serve a Long Lap penalty and then set his top speed feat on the way back to 11th place.
Miller, with a best result of 6th at the venue in the past, was in the heat of the scrap for the podium until the last couple of laps when he had his hands full battling Marc Marquez for 6th. The Australian won the duel just before the heavens opened at the finale of the race distance.
MotoGP and the 23-lap Grand Prix chase gets underway at 14.00 CEST on Sunday.
Jack Miller, 5th in qualification, 6th in the Sprint: “It was nice to be a part of the fight in the Sprint. I felt pretty good from the get-go. I got beaten-up a little at Turn 1 and I was struggling a bit there most of the day in deceleration and getting the bike stopped. When the rain started I tried to make my way to the front but a couple of mistakes meant I was in clutches of the other guys again! It was greasy out there and I got stuck in one pace for the Sprint but understood more and more about the bike towards the end. We made a step and I think we’ll have a bit more for tomorrow.”
Brad Binder, 10th in qualification, 11th in the Sprint: “I got a good start, went into the first turn and felt a bump on the outside. That was it. When I watched it back it looks like Alex [Marquez] went a bit too deep and was cutting back. I was looking right and holding my line. I should not have had a penalty. I feel sorry for Alex because you never want to be involved in compromising anybody’s race but that cost me points today. I wasn’t slow today! I could catch people and then try to pass them. I just lost time with the Long Lap. I know there are a few small things we can improve for tomorrow. The team have done an unreal job. The bike is a rocket, and it feels so good. It’s good to have the record again in our pocket: that’s the second time. I think we still have a couple more Ks!”
Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager: “It was a pretty wild Sprint. A lot of fast people and overtaking. We achieved what we could and it is now important to see where we can improve for tomorrow’s race. Brad was unlucky and we don’t agree with the penalty decision. Otherwise the 366.1kmph is way-better than the old record and I hope this will help us to the podium tomorrow! Jack started from the second row and tried to stay with the group but it was difficult, especially when it started to rain. We are fully focused on Sunday.”
Results Qualifying MotoGPGran Premio d’Italia Oakley
1. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati 1:44.855
2. Marc Marquez (ESP) Honda +0.078
3. Alex Marquez (ESP) Ducati +0.152
5. Jack Miller (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0.331
11. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0.876
Results MotoGP Sprint Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley
1. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati 19:41.183
2. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA) Ducati +0.369
3. Jorge Martin (ESP) Ducati +0.952
6. Jack Miller (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +3.772
11. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +6.672