Loris Baz Confirmed With Forward Racing In MotoGP For 2015

Loris Baz has finally found his place in MotoGP. After being signed and then disposed of by the Aspar team, the Forward Racing team finally announced that they have signed the 21-year-old Frenchman for the 2015 season. Baz will line up alongside Stefan Bradl on board the Open class Forward Yamaha. The Forward Yamaha will be close to a 2014 spec satellite Yamaha M1, but using the Open software.

Baz' path into the premier class has not been easy. He was in talks with Aspar for several weeks, eventually signing a precontract which depended on Aspar not being able to sign Scott Redding. Once that deadline passed, Aspar the refused to honor the precontract, citing Baz' height - said to be 1.92m - as a reason to reject him.

When problems appeared with the Aspar deal, Baz turned to the Forward team, who were more willing to overlook his height. At a press conference at Aragon, where Forward and Yamaha presented their 2015 project, Yamaha boss told the press that he could not see Baz' height being a problem on the Yamaha.

There is good reason to suspect that Baz will find it easier on the Yamaha than he would have on the Honda. At Misano, several riders were asked for their opinions of the affair, and of tall riders. As he so often does, Bradley Smith expressed it most eloquently. When asked if being tall was an impediment to racing in MotoGP, Smith said that it depended on the bike. "If you're going to ride a Honda, yes. If you're going to ride a Yamaha, the Yamaha has been designed around a slightly taller rider, Valentino [Rossi] and Colin [Edwards] back in the day. So it fits." 

In Smith's opinion, it would still be more difficult than for a smaller rider, however. "Road racing has always been like that, it's always been a smaller rider. In the current way of MotoGP, we haven't really seen big riders." The problem was mainly about the package which bike designers build, and as most riders are small, bikes are built for smaller riders, rather than tall riders. Tall riders would always face problems, Smith said. " Because you're adapting. This sport isn't about adapting, it's about designing a product and putting someone fast on that product, and staying within a box of design parameters. If Honda designed a bike around Loris Baz, Leon Camier, Scott Redding, the bike would be a lot different than designed around Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez."

With Baz now signed to Forward Racing, the chances of Mike Di Meglio retaining his seat at Avintia have grown slimmer. Dorna were known to be keen to have a fast young Frenchman riding in MotoGP, and had been offering to provide assistance for Baz in the series. With Baz signed, support for Di Meglio is no longer necessary, and Di Meglio will have to persuade Avintia to retain him on the strength of his performance, rather than his passport.

The Forward press release announcing the signing of Baz appears below:

Loris Baz joins NGM Forward Racing for the 2015 season

The NGM Forward Racing Team is delighted to announce to have signed an agreement with Loris Baz for the 2015 season. The 21 year old French rider completes the Forward Racing line up alongside of Moto2 World Champion Stefan Bradl on board of a Forward Yamaha. Loris Baz, who is currently riding for Kawasaki’s factory team in World Superbikes, will make his debut in the MotoGP World Championship with the NGM Forward Racing colours.

Loris Baz – Rider Profile

Date of birth: 01 February, 1993
Place of birth: Sallanches, France
2013: 8th in the World Superbike Championship with one win
2012: 13th in the World Superbike Championship with one win
2011: European Champion STK1000 Junior Championship BSB British Superbike with 7 Super poles in 7 races, Wild Card in the World Championship in 1000 STK
2010: 8th at the World Cup 1000 SuperStock
2009 8th at the World Cup 1000 SuperStock
2008: Youngest winner of the European Championship 600 SuperStock - 3 Victories, 8 podiums and 2 pole positions in 10 races
2007: Season Training in R6 600
2006: Catalan Championship and 125cc Spanish Championship

Giovanni Cuzari, Team Owner

“It’s a pleasure to welcome Loris Baz in our team. He is a young rider who has proved to be fast in World Superbikes and we would like to give him the possibility to show his talent also in MotoGP. I’m very happy to start this new adventure with Loris and bring this new rider in the premiere class, continuing our mission of talent scout team alongside of Yamaha. Loris will partner Stefan Bradl and we are delighted to line up a very young team with a 21 year old Frenchman and a 24 year old experienced German rider”.

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I think Bradley Smith is right. Marco Simoncelli had obvious problems to fit on the Honda RC212V, and he was 'only' 1,83 m.
They even had to cut away parts of the fairing. And while you can always reposition seat and foot pegs relative to the handlebars so that you will fit nicely, it will probably mess up the designed weight distribution.

Being 1,93 m myself, I am curious to see how Baz will do. And how he will look on the rostrum next to Pedrosa ;-)

Looking at Baz's CV I don't really see what qualifies him for GP apart from being French. I have my doubts about what he'll be able to achieve and I don't think his height will have much to do with it.