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WorldSBK Portimao: ‘I belong in this paddock’ - Baz

The temporary partnership between Loris Baz and GoEleven Ducati brought three trips to Portimao’s WorldSBK podium last weekend.

Baz’s call up to the satellite Ducati team to replace the injured Chaz Davies has been a spectacular success for all involved, with the tall Frenchman building on his strong weekend back in Jerez with three third places on the Algarve.

Until he got the last one taken off him, and Andrea Locatelli got promoted to third on his Yamaha.
The reason was a clash between Baz and Alvaro Bautista that saw Alvaro fall at T5, and a protest lodged by Honda. It was upheld, then a counter-protest went in by GoEleven so the final result may take some time, even weeks.


But as it stands Baz went third, third, fourth, although when he spoke to the media he was still a podium-sitter in Race Two.

“I’m happy - that’s my spirit, every time I jump on a bike whatever bike it is, I always give 100% of myself,” said Baz. “It works well on this bike. Honestly, it’s the best bike I rode in a long, long time. The feeling I have on the bike is awesome. I believe it’s sad that I have to give it back to Chaz. It’s a fantastic weekend. I’m super happy. Now I can have proper holidays.”

His view of the Alvaro incident was - a racing incident, not caused by him.“Yeah, it’s a racing incident,” he stated. “That’s exactly the same with Rinaldi in lap two. He came inside, he pushed me and my arm stuck in his wing. I didn’t crash. We overtook each other. With Alvaro, twenty times since yesterday. Every time super close. Every time closer and closer. Turn one every time he came was closer and closer. I didn’t expect him in turn five, to be honest. I was braking really deep there, so I didn’t expect him. I saw he went wide. He crossed wide, so I just crossed back. We touched when we were side by side. That’s for me a racing incident. I would say the same if I was on the other side. That’s like this.

“I just want to apologise because it’s never how you want to end a big battle. It would have been nice to battle until the chequered flag. So, I tried to catch him (to talk) later. Apart from that, super happy.”

Baz was riding with a painful right wrist after a fall, but it was better on Sunday. “It was much better, I don't know why,” he said, before joking, “Maybe the beer from yesterday made it better! It was much better. Also, the bike, the guys in the team did an amazing job.

"The bike was much easier to ride than yesterday. I had a feeling I could have been faster with a better first lap, but to spend a long time on the grid, I didn’t know what to expect with the cold tyre in the first lap, so I didn’t push. Then big battle with Rinaldi. I lost time. Then van der Mark’s bike was smoking. I didn’t want to crash in the last turn if he blew out the engine. So, I was trying to stay a bit away. But I know I had a good pace. I came back at the end. So, the team did an amazing job giving me a really fantastic bike today.”

Race two was delayed on the startline, and cut one lap to 19 as a result, which meant tyre warmers back on but no generators to get things back to temperature.

“We arrive on the grid and the red light went on and off, in like a tenth of a second,” said Baz. “You stay on the clutch. I think they had a problem with the red light. Then they put it again, but we could not start. We were back in neutral, so they just said, ‘race delayed’. Just to allow us to make one more warmup lap. The problem is, they put back the tyre warmer but with no generators, so we spent six minutes with no tyre warmer. Last time I had this in the US, I destroyed the frame, the engine, and the swing arm in the first lap! So, I had a bad memory from that.

“Honestly, I was shitting myself on the start. So, I took it easy in the first lap. Honestly, it was not bad. I think I could have pushed 99% from corner one. I just didn’t know what to expect, so I just took it easy. But the tyre was pretty good. I tried to do a fast warmup lap. I think the warm-up lap was maybe a second away from the race time. We pushed a lot just to warm the tyres. Everybody pushed pretty hard from the beginning. I spoke with Jonny and he said he didn’t feel any difference in the lap. It was good.”


Baz had only half joked that this was a holiday race for him, but the relatively relaxed attitude he had when not on the bike seemed to work well for him.

“This weekend we changed a couple of things, but taking it easy sometimes is nice. I’m enjoying. That’s the advice I give to every child that asks me what I should do to be a racer? Just enjoy what you’re doing. I do that because I love racing bikes. The day I don’t enjoy it anymore, I will retire. I enjoyed a lot this weekend because when you do the full season, you have expectation, pressure, and things. I just show up and I have nothing to lose, so you just enjoy a lot. This is two of my favourite tracks also in the world. Racing in Portimao is just one of the best, like Phillip Island. So, I enjoy a lot. For sure, it’s key to go fast to enjoy riding the bike.”

Baz confirmed that he had received many messages of congratulation from some big time Ducati people, but that a return to WorldSBK in 2021 - the obvious question after such a display - is not a given. “A lot to thank me and congratulate me from Paolo (Ciabatti), all the guys here. It’s nice. But, not for what you’re asking about! I’m happy because Ducati and GoEleven gave me the opportunity to show that I belong in this paddock, and to show the people that promised me too many things last year that maybe they should have considered me a little bit better.

“Now I can end the season with a big smile and we will see what happens in the future. But, I don't know. The numbers didn’t really change since yesterday!”

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