Despite his weekend ending with a bruising first lap collision, Loris Baz was otherwise thrilled to be leaving the opening round of the 2013 World Superbike Championship with a keenly fought sixth place finish at Phillip Island.
Racing at the Australian venue for the first time, Baz's relative inexperience was seemingly apparent in the run up to the races as he struggled to make much progress beyond the mid-field, the Frenchman eventually qualifying 11th.
Nonetheless, Baz's pace would pique when it mattered in the first race as he worked his way into an entertaining dice for fourth place with Chaz Davies, Leon Haslam and Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes.
Briefly running as high as fifth, though a late error would demote Baz behind the pack, he was able to recover sixth on the final lap from Haslam, much to his delight – and surprise…
“Race one was a really good result. I was faster in the race than practice but we did not change much on the bike. On a track like this when you are with other people with more experience it helps because they are pulling you along. I was really surprised, because I was not checking my lap times, that on lap 11 I looked and saw a 1'31.8.
“I was happy with that! I was coming back on Tom and was going to pass Haslam but when I came up on Haslam I had a problem with the tyre so I went really wide. I passed Haslam on the last lap so I am really happy and for a time I was fighting for fourth place. “
Baz's hopes of building on that result in race two, however, were ended abruptly on lap one when he tangled with Chaz Davies and crashed out of the race.
“In race two I think Chaz lost the front going into MG, I got hit and my race was over. It was a shame, and I am sure I could have battled with Tom up front again but we have many more races this year to do it.”