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WSBK Qatar: Loris Baz - Q&A Interview

Crash.net catches up with Loris Baz to discuss his time with Kawasaki in World Superbikes, his impending MotoGP move and that fall out with Tom Sykes...
Crash.net:
Hi Loris, now you've had time to think about it a bit we just wanted to get your perspective on what happened at the weekend.

Loris Baz:
Yes, sure.

Crash.net:
Going back a little, what was the relationship between you and Tom like when you first started at Kawasaki?

Loris Baz:
It was OK at the beginning but just at a personal level I gradually felt that we would probably never be friends. It wasn't a problem really in that we raced quite separately and we never really had to do any favours for each other.

Honestly there weren't any problems because he was faster than me anyway!

Perhaps the big way in which he helped me was how he developed the bike and what a good job he did with that and I've acknowledged that many times.

Crash.net:
Was there a lot of data exchange between the 2 sides of the garage?

Loris Baz:
Up to this season we were certainly sharing the data but then he asked for that to be stopped last winter because he preferred us not to use it anymore.

At the beginning his data was useful and interesting to compare with mine but wasn't something we could use directly because his style is so particular and different to mine.

Crash.net:
Was there any feeling of being a Number 2 rider?

Loris Baz:
No, absolutely not, I never felt like a number 2 rider.

I think Tom wanted Kawasaki to make me into a more number 2 rider but Kawasaki were always totally fair and gave me every chance during the season but at the end of the season we were just a little unlucky. We were never held back and were fighting with Tom fairly to the end.

Tom asked for the data not to be shared any more and that was his choice as world champion, that's normal, but when it came to team policy like number 1 and 2 riders the team were fair.

Crash.net:
Do you think that if Tom had behaved a little more diplomatically after Sepang that you would have given up the place in Qatar?

Loris Baz:
Oh yes, sure, I don't feel that I'm a bad person and I'm not someone who tries to act stupidly or has a big ego, I'm just human.

I'm just a rider who loves racing and coming as close to the front as possible and like anyone I have my friends and some people I like less than others.

My relationship with Tom didn't start so well at the beginning of the season but got worse when I made a mistake at Sepang but that was a mistake. After that he was slightly repressive in the box and tried not to help me. For example if he noticed I was following him in a session he would always notice and not allow it.

For sure if you have a good relationship with a team mate then it's normal to help him as I would a friend in the world outside racing but I think it's also normal not to help someone who has gone out of his way not to help you back. If I'd had a good relationship with him I would have wanted him to be world champion and would have helped him.

Maybe he will never need me again in his racing life but then he needed me and the relationship wasn't there. Another factor was helping Kawasaki because I really like them but I had to take a quick decision between the 2 and perhaps the bad feeling between Tom and me made it for me.

I'm cool with that decision and a lot of people have texted me in support. I feel it was the right one and I'm happy with it at a personal and racing level and that's why I now want to put it in the past and look towards my exciting future in MotoGP.

Honestly it's the first time in my life that I'm frightened of opening Twitter because everybody's going on about that and I want to stay positive for my first MotoGP test.

Crash.net:
Are you still under contract with Kawasaki?

Loris Baz:
I'm still under contract with Kawasaki but they generously made the decision to allow me to start my MotoGP testing from now.

It's 2 different categories so there is no conflict and I think that's normal.

Crash.net:
Did you have some hard conversations with the team when you got back to the garage?

Loris Baz:
No, not really. We talked a little bit but it was very busy there between the races. I took some time to explain my choice to them because I wanted to make it clear to them that it was in no way meant to go against the team.

One thing that a lot of people forget is that at that point I was still fighting for my 3rd place in the championship and that was really important to me.

Getting 3rd place in a world championship for someone who is only 21 is a big deal and I really wanted to keep my chance of doing that alive. You've got to remember that Johnny and Marco had lost a lot of points to me in the first race and the 3rd place looked very possible at that point.

It was that 3rd which came into my head when I saw the pit board saying 'Lose 1 place' and combined with the feelings I told you about before that made my decision.

Crash.net:
Coming back to the future, how did the Forward Yamaha ride come about?

Loris Baz:
Well, when I was talking with Kawasaki I only wanted to stay one more season because I wanted to have a go at the title but also to see what the market was like in MotoGP for 2016 but the offer was for 2 years which was too long for that plan.

I understand that they needed a rider for 2 years because they have a new bike coming so with that in mind I looked at the MotoGP market for next year. When I saw that I could move there on a really good bike it was an easy decision to make.

Crash.net:
How many years is your contract with Yamaha?

Loris Baz:
Well, it's a one year contract but I think that a rider always knows that it's a one year contract even if they sign for more because if you don't get the results even a 3 year contract can turn into a 1 year one. If you get the results though there is always something to talk about.

I'm perfectly happy with the 1 year contract.

Crash.net:
Tell us about the team and bike?

Loris Baz:
Well, the crew will be slightly different because a couple of them will be going with Aleix to Suzuki but the basis of the crew will be from the other side of the garage.

I think my crew chief will be Sergio but at the moment we haven't made any firm decisions. I've already known some people from the team for a few years though so I'm really looking forward to going there. I know they're good people.

The bike itself will be the same as the one Aleix is riding this season and only the ECU will be different. I'm happy to start in the open category.

I'll learn a little bit more when I see them at Valencia and afterwards when I go testing after the race.

Crash.net:
Have you ever had a go on MotoGP bike?

Loris Baz:
No, never but when I came to WSBK I also had everything to learn and did pretty well so I'll just start in the same way.

I'll try and forget everything, start from zero and learn quickly. It's an experienced team so I've got confidence that they can quickly show me how to ride well.

In the end it's just another bike, it's got different tyres and brakes, but it's just a bike and I think I can ride a bike pretty well!

Crash.net:
Thanks for talking to us Loris and we're looking forward to see how the testing at Valencia goes.

Loris Baz:
No problems.
by Christian Tiburtius


Tagged as: Yamaha , Kawasaki , Suzuki , Sepang , baz , May

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TomS

November 05, 2014 1:41 PM

I like Loris, have done for a while. I fully support his decision at Qatar, I was actually hoping he wouldn't give up the place, why should he? Tom treated him like an idiot for making the mistake in Sepang which was out of order, he ballsed up, apologise, and move on. I'm personally glad Tom Sykes didn't win the championship, I think he is completely arrogant, for the way he has treated Loris over the year but also the way he has acted, this proven by the stupid row he had with Johnny Rea, ELav and Chaz D on twitter, getting all het up over some banter, and the completely unprofessional way he had a pop at Loris after Qatar. The bloke is a *****, seems to think Loris owes him something for developing the bike to allow Loris to compete, what rubbish! And the way he mugged Loris off for only finishing 5th, as Loris said, when Tom was 21 he was struggling to finish 5th in British Supersport!! Good luck to Loris in Moto GP, and look forward to seeing Johnny Rea wipe the floo



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