Loris Baz

Loris Baz Interview: Ten Kate And Yamaha The Right Package For Podiums

It has been a long winter of waiting for Loris Baz. For a long time, it looked like the Frenchman would not have a full time ride for 2019, but on Tuesday, at the press conference presenting the Dutch round of WorldSBK at Assen, the Ten Kate squad announced they would be making a return to World Superbikes, racing a Yamaha R1, with Loris Baz at the helm.

Baz had been in contact with the Ten Kate squad for a while, and had decided to wait for the team to take shape. He had spent his time training hard, often riding in the snow, as well as occasionally helping other teams where the needed it.

"Already at the end of last season we took the decision, my manager and the guys around me, to only race if we could have a package to be fighting at the front," Baz said. "I didn't want to have another season like year but we couldn't find anything in WorldSBK so we looked in MotoAmerica, in BSB and other places."

The discussions with Ten Kate team managers Ronald ten Kate and Kervin Bos had persuaded Baz that it would be worth waiting. "When we started to talk to Ronald and Kervin it made us think that we should wait and see if anything can happen with them. We were told by Ten Kate that if the project would happen it would only happen with the right package. It was a long time waiting for it to happen but finally it's cool! It's worth it."

All about the package

For Baz, it was the complete package of bike and team which had convinced him this was a project worth joining. "The package is everything," he said. "Unfortunately this is a sport where you need everything to perform. You can give the best bike to the best rider but if he's in a bad team it won't work. You can give a fantastic team a bad bike and it won't work. A perfect bike, a perfect team and a bad rider won't work either!"

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Ten Kate To Return To WorldSBK With Yamaha And Loris Baz At Jerez

Ten Kate Racing will be making a return to the WorldSBK paddock. At either Imola or Jerez, the Dutch squad will be racing a Yamaha YZF-R1 with Loris Baz. With still some testing and development left to do, racing at Imola in early May is a tough challenge, but Ten Kate will definitely be racing at the Jerez round of WorldSBK to be held from 7th – 9th of June.

The switch to Yamaha is a dramatic break with the past for Ten Kate. The team grew out of a Honda dealership in Nieuwleusen, 45km south of Assen, and went on to win multiple championships in both the World Supersport and World Superbike categories. But on 30th October last year, Ten Kate were told at a meeting in Amsterdam that Honda would not be continuing with the team, but had chosen to partner with Althea and Moriwaki instead.

That decision had enormous consequences. Ten Kate was already developing engines ready for 2019, had ordered parts and supplies for the following season, and had signed a second rider alongside Leon Camier. Coming too late for Ten Kate to seek alternatives, the decision forced the race team into bankruptcy, and caused them to completely reevaluate their plans. After speaking to multiple other manufacturers, they eventually reached agreement with Yamaha Europe to race in WorldSBK for the 2019 season, with the first signs of a deal coming shortly before Christmas, while the details of the deal were only agreed in January.

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Waiting For The Call: Camier, Lowes, Van der Mark, Davies, Jones, Laverty On Replacement Rides In MotoGP

With Pol Espargaro ruled out of this weekend's British Grand Prix, Loris Baz will fill the void at KTM. With replacement riders once again in the MotoGP news, how does it feel to jump onto a MotoGP bike?

 

“It was like I'd never ridden a motorbike before,” is Leon Camier’s review on his MotoGP debut when he deputized for Nicky Hayden in 2014. With such a steep learning curve, what can you gain by jumping on a MotoGP bike for one weekend? It's a hiding to nothing according to many, but as Camier attests, world class riders can get up to speed quickly.

“It's tough mentally and it was draining to try to learn so much in such a short space of time. Understanding the tires was the biggest thing to learn because the brakes are quite normal; they stop the bike when you pull the lever! The tires take time to get the most out of them. You'll figure out how to get the most from them for one lap pretty quickly, but understanding them for a race takes longer.”

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Photo Gallery: Andrew Gosling Shoots The Phillip Island WorldSBK Test - Monday


Phillip Island feels like a Ducati track. Marco Melandri agreed on Monday


Leon Camier hopes to revive Honda's fortunes in WorldSBK. So far, so good


Not the best of starts to the test for Jonathan Rea. Still third fastest, despite the highside


The brains of the operation

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The Education Of Loris Baz: The Frenchman Returns To WorldSBK With A Wealth Of Experience

For most riders age is just a number, but for Loris Baz it's also a virtue. Despite already having six years' experience in world championship racing, the Frenchman returns to WorldSBK as one of the youngest riders in the field

Loris Baz on the Althea Ducati at the Portimao January test in 2018

When Loris Baz first raced in WorldSBK he was one of the rawest prospects on the grid. For Pere Riba, his former crew chief, he was a rough diamond that could be molded into a star. Three years working with the Spaniard turned Baz into a race winner. Three years in MotoGP turned him into a much more complete package, and returning to WorldSBK for 2018 Baz feels primed to show his true potential.

“When you ride with the best guys in the world in MotoGP on a bike that's a bit older you improve a lot,” reflected Baz. “You are always trying to find solutions and find some extra speed. That experience from MotoGP has definitely made me a much better rider and if I had this experience when I was racing in WorldSBK I would have been winning races.

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