Less than a month after stunning both himself and the WSBK paddock by claiming a maiden World Superbike podium in only his fifth event, Loris Baz has elevated his status from a rising star to a shining one by claiming a remarkable maiden win in awful conditions at Silverstone.
An incredible story, the 19-year-old was initially only handed a two-race contract back in May as a substitute for the injured Joan Lascorz, but Baz made enough of an impression in four races to secure a contract to the end of the season.
Since then, Baz has gone from strength-to-strength, finishing a remarkable third at Brno from 15th on the grid, but it is at Silverstone where the Frenchman has truly shone through the gloom.
Shrugging off a crash in Superpole that left him ninth on the grid, Baz quickly lifted himself into contention during the drier stages of race one, battling bar-to-bar with more experienced rivals to run as high as second. However, his confidence would pique when rain arrived, Baz making gains as the riders tip-toed through the final five laps with their slick tyres.
With victory destined to go the way of the bravest rider, few expected it to be the inexperienced Baz to emerge top, but the Kawasaki rider would do it in style as he scythed past his rivals on the Hangar Straight and cling on to cross the finish line first.
Dedicating the win to his predecessor Lascorz, who was left paralysed in an accident during testing earlier this season, Baz was thrilled to become the second-youngest race winner in World Superbikes.
“It is really special to win and to win in England because I raced here in BSB last year for a while,” he said. “I would also like to thank Kawasaki for believing in me. We made no mistakes in race one and finished up front. I think in the dry we are also really fast and we can fight for the first five or seven places. I chose the slick tyre because it was the best choice in race one.
“The conditions in race one were crazy for a while and early on I was missing some grip but when I saw the rains coming I pushed hard even though it was quite wet but I stayed on the bike and I am really happy, as you can imagine, for this victory. I want to thank all the team and we are also thinking of Joan Lascorz, because this victory is for him now.”
Furthermore, Baz almost proceeded to double up in race two as he forged his way up the order in the wet conditions. Even taking the lead from Sylvain Guintoli, though he followed that up with a crash at Becketts, the subsequent red flag would see him awarded second place nonetheless.
“As for race two it was amazing to be here inside the top three again. The start of race two was not so wet so I just tried to keep my tyres, and then it started to move back up to Kuba and Sylvain, passed them both before falling.
“I think it was the right decision to take the race results back to lap eight because there was a lot of fuel on the track for two laps, and a lot of water. I am really happy and thanks to all my crew and Kawasaki again.”
Baz's victory means Kawasaki is the only team to have had both of its riders win a race this season.