FIGHTING FOR HIS FUTURE: Baz sparkles with best results of 2023, top BMW at Imola

Monday, 17 July 2023 06:50 GMT

As the Frenchman himself said, “it’s always time to go fast” but the timing couldn’t have been more crucial this weekend

After a tough season which has seen him come back from a leg fracture, battle hard to get back to full fitness and struggle to demonstrate his true potential, Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) enjoyed his best results of the season so far. Taking three top ten finishes – including two top eights in the full races, Baz was able to take top BMW honours in both Race 1 and Race 2, showcasing what he’s capable of as he beat the likes of Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) for top BMW honours.

WEEKEND IN REVIEW: Baz dazzles with fine rides to three top ten finishes

Baz’s weekend didn’t start in the best way, after teammate Garrett Gerloff skittled him at Rivazza in a strange out-lap incident in FP2. However, despite a pain in his wrist, Baz dusted himself off to put himself in contention for the races with ninth on the grid, a second top ten of the season in Superpole. He converted that into P8 in Race 1, his best result of the season, whilst a P10 in the Superpole Race meant he didn’t improve his position on the grid, instead starting from the fourth row.

However, Baz was fighting for sixth with the likes of Brad Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) and Scott Redding, after clearing Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) on Lap 2. He and Ray got ahead of Redding on Lap 12, with the 30-year-old dropping to eighth, and despite digging deep, Baz couldn’t crack the top six. Taking P7 was still a personal best of his season though, as he aims to prove what he can still offer, with his future in WorldSBK not certain for 2024.

IN HIS OWN WORDS: “I can start my season”

Talking about his first “normal” weekend of 2023, Baz was happy to just be back to something of his and the package’s best: "It was a great, first normal weekend for me; I didn't have a normal Phillip Island and then I got injured at Mandalika. Then, a problem in every round. The main highlight of the weekend was coming back to the box and seeing my guys smiling in the box, after so many tough moments for me and also for them, because we are like a family and we all fight together. I was a bit disappointed to not get in the top nine in the Superpole Race, I just took too long to come up on Scott.

“Then, in Race 2, it was good. I lost a bit too much time behind Bradley in the early laps and then took Scott in the last laps. I wasn't really faster than him but I managed to do less mistakes. Brad was just too fast but I am really happy to bring good results. Not what we want but what we and the BMW M 1000 RR can do at the moment. I've been struggling with injuries but I am happy that it is finally over and that I can start my season.”

“JUST NO LUCK” – is Imola the turning point for Baz in second half of 2023?

It's been a season of disappointment until Imola for the Frenchman, who suffered a leg fracture at Mandalika, before returning to Assen with the injury, as well as technical issues that carried on in the upcoming rounds. Without a top ten and just 13 points after six rounds, Imola was a timely turnaround and a good way to more than double his points tally for the year.

“The target is to not be top BMW but to improve the bike and fight for better results,” continued Baz, who was the first BMW home in both full-length races for the first time since joining the German brand in 2022. “The Superpole helped a lot but the main thing was to do lots of laps and long runs in FP1 and FP2, even if we had the crash. Then, you know what to expect in the race and we haven't been able to do that since Phillip Island. Mandalika was a rough weekend with the injury, then at Assen, we had a technical issue and I was injured and Barcelona was the same. We were unlucky at Misano and Donington Park; I think I did more laps in FP1 here than I did in the full weekend at Donington Park! That's life; not anyone's fault, just no luck.”

THE FUTURE: “I don’t think it will change much, everything is in Scott’s hands”

Baz’s future is a key talking point in the paddock; Scott Redding had until July 15th – Saturday at Imola – to decide whether to remain with BMW or not and if the decision has been made to stay, it could be Baz that’s moved out: “It's always time to go fast and I never doubted that I could. It was a big injury and I spent a full month on my sofa, and you can't expect anyone to be fast when they come back from that. I am still struggling with the foot, not on the bike in life day by day, it's still painful. It's not like ten years ago when you come back and could do a top five or top six. The level is so high right now. So, it was the right time but I don't think it's going to change much, everything is in Scott's hands so I'll just take this weekend.”

Watch the round highlights from our return to Imola here, whilst enjoying the 2023 season with the WorldSBK VideoPass!