Loris Baz is set to return to WorldSBK alongside Ten Kate, switching to Yamaha machinery
An emblematic figure in the paddock, Loris Baz will be back very soon on the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship tarmac after several months of uncertainty, this time onboard a Yamaha YZF R1 with Ten Kate.
A bundle of feelings ranging from relief to impatience, the French rider spoke to WorldSBK.com shortly after the announcement and let us in on some of the details of this new partnership.
You will meet up again with the WorldSBK paddock, this time onboard a Yamaha. How did this project come to life?
At the end of last season, there weren’t really any available seats for me. I spoke in length with my manager, Eric Mahé, and we both agreed not to sign with anyone unless there was a guarantee that I could fight for the top positions. There were no such opportunities in the WorldSBK paddock, so we also started looking in the UK and USA, but without finding anything really encouraging. We then made the risky decision to spend a season on the sidelines, even though Éric told me that something would surely happen on the Ten Kate front, but without any promises.... And at the end of last year, the Ten Kate/Yamaha project began to take shape. It was, in my opinion, something very interesting and exciting. We would have liked for it to happen sooner, but the end of their season was very complicated, just like mine was, so everything fell into place slowly. Still, I’m very pleased, Yamaha is a company that I feel particularly close to, I began my career here with them thanks to Jean-Claude Olivier. I truly can’t wait to get started.
Is this a long-term project or just for this season?
A bit of both. For the moment we’re focusing on this year. We want to start our season at Imola and be competitive as soon as possible. Beyond that, even if nothing has been signed for next year, my goal as well as the team’s is to continue for several seasons, to evolve and work together.
What support will Yamaha give you, compared to the official factory team or GRT?
Yamaha has put in place a ‘client’ programme; what that means is that my bike is the same as the ones delivered to Crescent and GRT. If there are any upgrades during the year, the official team will be the first beneficiaries. In fact, the only difference between my bike and the rest will be the brakes, we will work with Nissin. The good new is that we’ll receive a finished machine, there’s no development to be done so I hope to perform straightaway.
What are your goals for this year, in terms of results?
We’re coming onboard with the season already underway. But with a good bike that is all ready, we can definitely fight at the front. We’ll also have to take into consideration that we may very well start directly in a race weekend, without any testing… It will be a discovery, it’ll be important to find our references. But for the rest of the season, the goal will be to push the bike as hard as can be and to fight for the podium.
What has your schedule been this year? Have you already got your hands on an R1?
I spent my winter just like I do every off-season. I even intensified my programme, there’s been a lot in terms of physical preparation. I also did some motocross, rode on ice, and a bit of supermoto in Spain. I haven’t picked up an R1 yet, we are in talks with the team over when they’ll receive the bikes. But even if its not on a Superbike, I’d like to train on a Stock version before the races, to get an idea and start finding my markers”.
Don’t miss the flying Frenchman’s return to the paddock thanks to WorldSBK VideoPass!