An exclusive interview with Kawasaki WSBK star Loris Baz, conducted during the first day of testing at Jerez…
Hi Loris, how's the testing going?
We'll be testing today, tomorrow and Wednesday. It's been going well today and we've been testing many things. The feeling wasn't good at the beginning but at the end we managed to make some long runs and I'm happy to be not so far from Tom at the moment. I'm second fastest today so that's not too bad.
At Aragon we tried a new electronic system which makes the bike much easier to control and therefore much faster and we've been fine tuning that here. It was the electronics which gave us the big step in performance we found in Aragon. It's not a totally new electronics system but it is quite fundamental in that it manages elements such as traction control so there's a lot of work to do. Both bikes are now using that system so we are both working on it.
From the feeling point of view the bike is now much easier to control, the traction and wheelie is far better managed and that's giving us better tyre life. We've found that these electronics have not only improved our one lap time but also helped us over a race distance.
Next season as a race winning rider in a factory team the aim has to be the championship, but to do that you've got to beat Tom. How do you plan to do that?
Well, at the moment I'm not sure. I am a totally different rider to Tom and I know where I'm fast and I'm certainly not scared of anybody including my team-mate. I had an injury at Nurburgring but at the end of this season I was going faster than I ever have so I am confident about what I can do next season.
I know where I'm faster than Tom and I know where he's faster so I've got a good idea of the job that needs doing and how to do it. An important difference is that Tom is usually faster in the slow corners and I'm quicker in the fast ones and it's always been like that on this bike, it was also like that for me previously on the 600 and in BSB.
I'm not necessarily trying to change to Tom's style though; we're more trying to adapt the bike with the new electronics to mine. By doing this we're trying to bring the rest of the lap up to my performance in the fast corners.
Also remember that I'm only 20 years old and will hopefully only improve so that is a great point in my favour. When you're 20 years old you can still change and work on your style and that's what we're doing. I'm sure that 2014 will be a good year for me.
Is there good communication between the two sides of the garage?
Yeah, absolutely. Everybody in the whole team can share the data and that's good for me because I can go faster, I don't know if Tom is using my data but it is there for him too. I've got to say that I think that an open way is the best way to work in any team to go faster. The atmosphere is totally cooperative.
You've had some incredible - and frightening! - rides in mixed conditions, is that to do with your style or courage?