Loris Baz returned to WorldSBK action at Jerez last weekend, standing in at GoEleven Ducati for the injured Chaz Davies after a season riding in America
His expected continuation in the Championship for 2021, with his previous Ten Kate Yamaha squad, came to nothing but he was back on Pirelli tyres, albeit on a different Ducati machine from his MotoAmerica one, and looking right at home in Spain again as he finished sixth and ninth in Sunday’s two races.
“I think we just did a great job all weekend on not changing the bike,” said Baz of why he was so strong against some riders who had been racing all year in this class.
“They gave me a base that works well. That was the main thing. Then just trying to get used again to this. Looking at the data, understand what I was missing. For sure, Friday I went to sleep and I was missing a lot of feeling on the rear and the front, and then Saturday it was better and today it was even better.
“Race Two was again something new, because it’s the first time that I ride this bike with those tyres in the heat. We didn’t have big heat all weekend. So, I’m really, really happy with how the weekend went on the bike. Obviously, it was not easy racing today with what happened yesterday. But, I’m part of the one thinking that we need to race when this kind of thing happens.
“It’s the best tribute you can give to someone who died doing what he liked, is doing it the next day and trying to have fun on the bike. So, I just try to remember when I was on the grid that we’re lucky to do this and that we needed to have fun on the bike.”
Baz is still looking at racing in MotoAmerica in 2022, for his 2021 team again, despite this strong showing. He would like to come back to Worlds, but not next year.
“I wish and I don’t wish at the same time,” he explained. “We didn’t finish the job we have to do there. I found a big family there. Then of course, at the same time, I know deep in my heart I’m still sad not being in this paddock and heading to leave last year was really painful, especially after being promised that I had all the best ride for this year. But at the same time, I’m thankful for Ducati to give me a bike this year in the US. They need me there. I think I’ve shown this weekend I still have the pace to ride here. So, we’ll see. I’m just thinking that’s my holidays, honestly. Those two races are my holidays. Having fun on a bike that works well. So, just thankful to Ducati and GoEleven for the opportunity.”
As Baz raced an R1 last year, could he see what Yamaha changed this year to be so strong, especially with Toprak Razgatlioglu?
“I talked a little bit with Toprak, too. He’s my only friend on track, I guess. So, I’m really happy for him. Him and Scott are both my two friends that I had for a long time here. I think they improved for sure the top speed. The engine is stronger. I guess they improved also the engine brake and the electronics. At least that was my complaint last year, and I think they improved that. But every rider is different.
“Every rider needs something different but I know that with Toprak, last year we were more or less complaining about the same thing. We can see that the bike is faster also this year but Toprak is doing the difference, not the R1. We cannot say that he’s winning because of the Yamaha. He’s winning because he’s Toprak. He’s really doing a nice job this year. I think the R1 did a step. It’s strong in every championship. They are winning in BSB, they are winning in France, winning in US, they are winning in MotoGP, they’re winning here. They have strong riders also everywhere. The green is always more green in the neighbours place, always. But, for sure they improved. The top speed at least improved, and that was hard last year.
“I didn’t see the race yet but I saw he won. I’m surprised with Scott fighting for the win. He was struggling all weekend, so he really found something in race two. Honestly, when I came back in the box, I was expecting to see a 25-second gap to the lead, because I did a really, really good feeling in the race two and it was only 12 seconds. This year I finished a lot of races 12 seconds away in the US, and I was P2. I’m closer to win a race this weekend than I’ve been in US, basically.
“It’s 90% done (to race back in America in 2022). The team wants to keep me. We didn’t sign a contract. I know more than anyone that when it’s not signed, it’s not done.”