WorldSBK race winner, podium finisher on a variety of bikes but now looking for a slot on the grid, Loris Baz is one of the biggest names on the market
Following the news that Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) will partner Toprak Razgatlioglu in the factory BMW outfit for 2024 and that Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) will move across to the Bonovo Action BMW team alongside existing rider Garrett Gerloff, there’s no room at the BMW Inn for Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW). The popular Frenchman, who is in his second season with Jurgen Roder’s German outfit, is now one of the key names on the market for next year and time is ticking in terms of what he’ll do. Enjoy all the latest silly season gossip here, too!
Baz’s 2023 season hasn’t set the world on fire but that has been down to many reasons, the main one being his horrendous leg injury sustained during the Superpole Race at Mandalika in Indonesia. On the opening lap of the restart, he was being overtaken by Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) on the approach to Turn 10 but with the #76’s leg dangling in the track, Lowes couldn’t avoid hitting it, leaving Baz with ligament damage and a fractured fibula, as well as – at the time – questioning whether his leg was still there.
However, in true Loris Baz style and determination, he was back at the next round six weeks later at Assen, although no points were rewarded for his efforts. Just two more points-scoring finishes were registered as he fought back to full fitness, until a fine eighth place at Imola put a smile back on his and the team’s face. In the last nine races, six top ten finishes from nine, with a best result of seventh coming in Race 2 at Imola and matched at home at Magny-Cours in the Superpole Race.
Speaking of the news that he’s surplus to requirements within BMW for 2024, Baz said: “I’m OK and I expected this decision, so it hasn’t come from nowhere. I’m working on my future with my manager, trying to find the best option and doing everything I can to stay in WorldSBK. It’s a bit early to know what I can do, but I want to stay here.”
This isn’t the first time that Baz has been the odd one out when it comes to the annual game of musical chairs. In 2014, it was announced that Jonathan Rea would replace him at Kawasaki for 2015, although Baz sought refuge in MotoGP™ with Forward Racing. The team withdrew at the end of 2015, but he moved to the Aspar Ducati outfit until the end of 2017, when he lost his ride to Karel Abraham.
Baz was back to WorldSBK in 2018 with the Althea BMW but was then without a ride for 2019 as the team joined up with Honda’s hybrid-official effort. Halfway through 2019, he was back on the grid with Ten Kate Racing Yamaha, themselves having to leave long-term partners Honda for 2019 with Baz and the Dutch team together until the end of 2020, achieving two podiums. However, Ten Kate scaled back their WorldSBK effort, instead dedicating their resources to their roots in WorldSSP, leaving Baz out of work again before he found the Warhorse Ducati ride in MotoAmerica. However, a stand-in ride at Portimao for the injured Chaz Davies gave a podium, putting him in the shop window and thus joining Bonovo Action BMW for 2022 as part of the team’s expansion to two riders, alongside Eugene Laverty.
Baz’s manager is none other than Eric Mahe, former manager to 2021 MotoGP™ World Champion Fabio Quartararo. Baz continued to look to the future and praised Eric for the work he’s done already: “I’m lucky enough to have one of the best managers around; we have three rounds remaining with Bonovo and they’re a great group of guys, so they deserve the best for myself and we’ll try to have fun on the bike as much as we can. We’ll see what my manager brings me between rounds.”
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