Binder Brothers Ride The Roof.

The Binder’s gruelling last riding week of 2023.

By Donovan Fourie. Pics by Foley Foto, MotoGP and Kerry Hughes Photography.

Brad Binder

Brad Binder had one helluva last week or so as a factory rider. There was the last round of the MotoGP championship at Valencia that started, for Binder, when he arrived the Wednesday before, followed by a Thursday of PR and setup, as is the life of a MotoGP rider before a round.

Then there was the weekend that again entails a stack of on-track duties plus all the off-track ones, that are a full-time job on their own.

The race, as you saw on TV, ended in heartbreak after leading the first part and looking commanding, until he made a mistake going into one of Valencia’s tricky right-handers and accidentally doing the long-lap loop, something the stewards must’ve been upset about as they were still busy looking for an excuse to send him through it officially.

Sunday night held the glistening MotoGP Awards Ceremony and Monday was the first day of rest before Tuesday’s testing duties resumed. The Tuesday test after the last round of the year is always interesting because it’s the first time we truly see what the teams have installed for the following year, usually entailing new parts, sometimes complete new bikes and sometimes completely new riders.

Marquez Older was obviously the big new talking point, as he showed worryingly good pace on his new Ducati. He was smiling nearly as much as his new Gresini team, who got an eight-time champion for a bargain price.

Brad Binder

Binder got down with the task of getting KTM ready for 2024, putting in 51 laps on a MotoGP bike, which is the same effort as doing five million laps on anything that isn’t a MotoGP bike.

Right at the end of the day, as the Valencian shadows grew to creepy Goliath lengths, Brad popped in the second-best time of the day. It would’ve been the fastest but he was held up by a slower rider at the end of the lap.

The next lap was looking even better – topping the time sheets seemed certain – until cold Turn Five happened and he went skidding into the gravel trap, thankfully without injury but, sadly, not taking the destined top spot.

Brad Binder

It was a long day in the saddle, though, followed the next morning by a long flight back to South Africa that was, in the fine tradition of airlines all over the world, delayed. He landed in SA after midnight where he was picked up at the airport by a friend and sped through the night towards Maseru for his inaugural Roof of Africa.

He arrived at the hotel at 7am, just in time for a quick breakfast before he kitted up to start not just his first Roof of Africa, but his first ever enduro. This challenge was happening not just with zero sleep but not much in the way of enduro experience – he had previously spent fewer than two hours doing a quick enduro run with KTM SA’s Grant Frerichs, and here he was lining up for his first race. Not just his first race, but bronze Roof of Africa. 

Notoriously one of the toughest enduros in the world.

Lining up for Round The Houses

The first bit wasn’t so bad – a sort of opening ceremony called Round the Houses where riders, literally, race on their dirt bikes around the houses on the closed-off streets of Maseru. A bit like Maseru’s version of the Isle Of Man TT.

Binder lined up for his race and drifted his KTM around to take a chilled win and the grand prize of not drifting off in a cloud of sleeplessness.

Looking Surprisingly Fresh after the Time Trial.

The second part of Day One of the Roof is the Time Trial that takes place at the newly-built Maseru Mall on the edge of town. It’s a 17km stage starting at the top of the mountain that backdrops the mall and ends with an obstacle course in front of the mall that is lined with thousands of cheering local fans who will cheer even louder if (When) you get it wrong.

Binder didn’t get it wrong. He stormed through the laid-out logs, the tractor tyres, the rock garden and the impassable giant cement pipes. How the hell does he do that with no sleep and hardly ever having ridden an enduro bike?

Darryn and Brad at the start of day 2. Thaba Bosiu

With some sleep under his belt, Brad lined up for the start of the main enduro. The Roof works like this – the first day, with Round the Houses and the Time Trial is more of a warm-up than a full day of enduro. The next two days more than makeup for it.

There are four classes – Gold, Silver, Bronze and Iron. Iron is the easiest class for casual enduro riders. The gold route is, empirically, impossible. The riders have to be using some sort of witchcraft to finish that course.

Binder, although seemingly a magician on a MotoGP bike, is void of supernatural enduro gifts, thus lined up in the ever-popular Bronze Class, a category designed to be challenging for the experienced enduro rider, which Binder is not. 

To add to the torment, Lesotho was in the grip of a heatwave that saw temperatures hover close to the 40-degree mark.

Joining him for the rest of the race was his brother Darryn, who had arrived in Maseru the night before. It would be two brothers, and two MotoGP riders, taking on the impossible.

The goal was not to win anything, but rather to tick it off the bucket list with a finish. Yet, despite a steady but chilled pace with no experience, after seven and a half hours in the seat, the brothers crossed the day’s finish line having hooked themselves into the top 100 out of a starting grid of 230 Bronze riders.

Brad up the hill...
Darryn looking solid...

Day Three was even hotter, and the day’s route even tougher. Yet, the duo lined up and got cracking, learning more every kilometre they covered. 

To spectators, by the end of the race, the two looked like Gold or Silver riders lapping Bronze back markers as they stormed up the climbs.

Despite this, the day went on longer than the one before, crossing the final finish line after eight and a half hours. 

They looked tired but smiling. It was a helluva big achievement.

Darryn, having missed Day One, didn’t feature in the final timesheets but managed to finish the two main days. Brad, with missing sleep and having spent the week before fulfilling MotoGP duties, not only finished, but ended the race in a laudable 88th position of the 230 experienced entries.

The Binders are very talented boys indeed.

But wait! There’s more!

Just a week after The Roof, Brad got to marry his sweetheart Courtney Renniers. 

And you thought that you were having a hectic month?


Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top