One day of testing at Jerez was enough to rekindle Loris Baz's enjoyment in riding a MotoGP machine, as the Frenchman tested Avintia Ducati's GP15 for the first time.
Baz was the third fastest rider on Wednesday, just behind team-mate Hector Barbera and World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea, and felt it had been some time since he had shown this pace in the dry.
“It's going good,” said Baz, who scored two top-five results in what was an otherwise injury-ravaged season.
“At least I was enjoying riding the bike all day. It didn't happen for a long time. We tried some things on the bike. Everything went good. I was quite surprised by the fast lap time I was able to make.
“Still we have some problems with the tyre overheating on the rear but we didn't try any rear tyre. We just worked with the base one and we will see tomorrow what we can do with the setting to be able to be more consistent. I'm really happy. It's been so long that I haven't been fast and I haven't been enjoying riding the bike like this.”
On stepping up to the GP15 machine, and his first impressions of it, Baz said, “Well, the bike is stronger. The engine is stronger. Also, the gearbox is much better. The chassis too, I have more grip on the rear and the bike is turning better. I would say everything is just a bit better.
“The turning on the GP14.2 was the weakest point. Also we were struggling at the beginning because the first Michelin rear that they brought last year had a lot of grip. You could make a setting that would make the bike turn but the tyre at the end of the season had less grip so we had a problem. Instead this bike is quite strong.”
Baz's second year in the premier class was pocked by three huge spills, the first coming when his rear tyre exploded in a test in Sepang. Painful injuries then followed courtesy of crashes at Mugello and Silverstone.
He revealed that he is scheduled to have surgery after this test before resting throughout December to regain some strength.
“I'm feeling better than I was in Valencia because there I was tired. Also my head was really tired from all of the season. On the Thursday after the test there I was OK – sure, looking forward to riding the bike [in Jerez], but I was tired.
“Two weeks I haven't trained a lot, just relaxing, but I feel good. I was not able to make 30 laps but this is not the moment. After this test I will have a few days of Supermotard in Spain and then I will go to the surgery.
“I will have an operation on the foot to take off the plates. Then on the inside I have three plates and 15 screws. I have to take these out and then it'll be better.
“I'll then take some rest in December before I start training again in January. I would say I'm enjoying riding. When you enjoy riding you always believe it.”
On working with new crew chief Paolo Zavalloni, he added, “He was with Bastianini last year.
“This season he was with Mahindra. He is going well. I know him from the Superstock a few years ago. He's a good guy and he looks really motivated. It's cool because we can start from zero again and I think that's what I needed. We are just trying to enjoy his job now.”