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Binder’s date with destiny

PICK OF THE SPORT: South African MotoGP rider Brad Binder has a real chance of winning this weekend’s Portugal Grand Prix in a race you cannot miss, recommends Dylan Bettencourt.

Brad Binder faces a date with destiny this weekend.

He goes into the Grande Prémio de Portugal in Portimão with a very real chance of scoring a victory for his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing.

At the first race of the season in Qatar, Binder rode near-perfect races in both the Sprint and GP events, scoring second place in both – the only non-Ducati bike in the top 10.

After the race he referred to a recurring problem the team has with tyre wear. He said if it wasn’t for the deterioration of his front tyre, he could have challenged for the win.

Whether it is Binder’s aggressive style or the balance of his bike, the truth is that he has always had a problem with tyre wear. Watching him oversteering into a corner as if he is riding speedway is incredible to watch, but it must be hell on the tyres.

Francesco Bagnaia, championship leader, put his finger on the reason Binder has the best chance this weekend.

“Portimão is a track where the rider can make the difference,” he said.

Exactly right, Francesco. The track has many undulations where pure guts is required and those long sweeping bends are what Binder is good at.

In the pre-race conference, Binder may have been referring to tyre wear when he said: “Getting to the front is one thing. Staying there is something else.”

This weekend he may just get that “something else” right.

Saturday sprint race is at 5pm on DStv channel 215

Sunday MotoGP is at 4pm on DStv channel 215

➤ All four of the United Rugby Championship matches involving South African teams are worth watching – but for very different reasons.

Can the Sharks find a way out of the deep hole they have dug for themselves? They are still languishing at the bottom of the URC log while Ulster is fifth. Ulster is expected to win (as is any team that faces the Sharks), but the Durban faithful will be out in full force supporting their team and the city is going to be hot and sticky. Maybe John Plumtree can find a way to get his team to win.

Expect the DHL Stormers to win their match, but Edinburgh haven’t travelled all the way from Scotland to go down without a fight. The Stormers, to be honest, may be struggling with an attitude problem especially after they got a grand spanking from the Bulls last time out, but no doubt John Dobson will have worked hard to get his team into shape.

The Emirates Lions have an uphill struggle against Connacht Rugby in Galway, but then the boys from Johannesburg have a bit of a reputation for being giant killers. They might just pull it off.

Once again the question must be asked. Will the Bulls bring their best game when they face the Dragons in Newport, Wales? They should win by a big margin, but Jake White has often said he doesn’t mind losing matches they don’t need to win.

All matches on Saturday are broadcast live on DStv channel 211

Sharks vs Ulster 3pm

Stormers vs Edinburgh 5.05pm

Connacht vs Emirates Lions 7.15pm

Dragons vs Vodacom Bulls 9.35pm

➤ With no domestic football because of the international break, fans may feel there isn’t much to turn the television on for but Saturday night’s clash between Brazil and England is certainly one to get excited about.

With both teams preparing for continental tournaments this year, a morale-boosting victory over a fellow giant would go a long way.

That clash kicks off at 9pm on Saturday and an hour later France will take on Germany, which many years ago would have been a mammoth clash.

However, with France being world champions and Germany having failed to exit the group stage in the last two Fifa World Cups, it seems a formality that France will win.

England vs Brazil will be live on DStv channel 203 with France and Germany live on DStv channel 204.

➤ Local Formula 1 fans will have to set an alarm for this weekend’s Grand Prix in Australia, with the race set to begin at 6am on Sunday.

Qualifying heats on Saturday offer some relief as they only start at 7am, but it’s nonetheless a difficult time to wake up during a makeshift long weekend in Mzansi.

The race will be live on DStv channel 215.

Pictured above: Brad Binder.

Image source: X