A stunning pre-season testing schedule has seen Loris Baz become more than just the top Independent rider…
One rider has been making heads turn in the build-up to 2020, and that is Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha). He’s been inside the top three throughout the last four testing days and despite never ridden a Yamaha at Phillip Island, the Frenchman was firmly inside the top two. Despite not taking a podium for the Dutch team or Yamaha, Baz is one of the favourites as the start of the 2020 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship nears.
One of the most impressive aspects of Baz’s testing at Phillip Island – besides the fact he hadn’t ridden a Yamaha at the track – was that he did it using the 2019 engine. Baz has the 2020 bike at his disposal this season, a vastly improved evolution of an already race winning bike, but was not using the new engine, saving it for Friday and the first sessions. Testing various set-ups across the Yamaha YZF-R1, Baz has been busy in testing, but the hard work is now paying dividends.
Speaking after the Phillip Island Official Test, Baz said: “I am really happy. We have been working hard and trying many things. The main thing here is to be able to use the tyre over the race distance, so we’ve been trying a few things. Also, on Monday, I was not in good shape so we didn’t do too many long runs but today I felt better; today, we were able to do two long runs with two completely different settings with two different bikes, to see how it would react on race distance. I am happy, the R1 is working so well here and I am really enjoying the bike and the team, who are doing a fantastic job.”
Baz has had previous Phillip Island success, with a podium coming in 2014, when he started seventh and finished in second. Baz had plenty of good results on the Yamaha in 2019 too, with 16 top-ten finishes, of which there were a handful of fourth places, including at home at Magny-Cours, where he battled for the win early on in Race 1.
Continuing, Baz commented about the new engine he will use during the Yamaha Finance Australian Round: “I think it will give us some top speed, that is our weakest point at the moment, together with the starts. I think that we improved the start a little bit, but we need top speed. This top speed doesn’t normally give you much in a lap time, but it can help a lot for the race. This is important to overtake and to not lose so much time on the straights.”
Follow Baz’s progress throughout 2020 with the WorldSBK VideoPass!