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Aug 13, 2013

Rider Profile: Kawasaki World Superbike Racer Loris Baz

eni FIM Superbike World Championship: Loris Baz (76) in action on his Kawasaki ZX-10R Superbike.
Rider Feature: Loris Baz, Kawasaki Racing Team, SBK

For a rider of only 20-years-of age, official Kawasaki SBK star Loris Baz has had a busier career and a greater breadth of experience than many riders who may now be reaching their 30th year.

A Superstock 600 European Cup Champion at only 15 years of age, Baz previously enjoyed rides in CEV Supersport (Spain), IDM Supersport and Superbike Germany), BSB (UK), CIV Superstock 1000 (Italy), Superstock 1000 FIM Cup (everywhere) and most recently he has been official rider for the Kawasaki Racing team in Superbike Word Championship racing, winning the most recent race in the championship at Silverstone. Oh, and he did some winning of the prestigious Bol d’Or Endurance race on a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R this year as well…

The guy is fast, that’s why his nickname on his pit board is “Baz-ooka.”

Loris, born on the first day of February 1993, joined KRT in challenging circumstances after the serious injury suffered by regular rider Joan Lascorz in 2012.

For a rider so young he adapted to the sudden pressure of a factory ride well - winning a race in the wet at Silverstone in 2012 and being victorious there yet again very recently, proving that year and this that he is well worthy of his place on the sharp end of the grid.

Part of the reason he is ahead of so many riders who are even more proven at this level than he is because of the way he was - literally - trained as a young rider. And partly because Kawasaki has provided him with the tools and experts to get the best out of the opportunity he has been presented with.

In addition, Baz is not scared to try something new, as he explains. “I think this is because I have always listened to the people around me,” said Loris. “People like former rider Adrien Morillas, who helps me still. Adrien always gave me a lot of input and I did what he asked me to do. I trusted him 100% and it is the same with Pere Riba my KRT crew chief. When Pere asks me to try something I am not scared of new things because I just want to learn. I am trying to make the whole thing better and better. If you only try to adapt the bike to suit you progress can be quite slow. You can adapt much more easily to the bike than you can adapt the bike to you. But if you go in both those directions it works really fast. You gain in two ways.”

In Riba, one of the important people in the background and foreground of Kawasaki’s overall SBK effort, Baz has found another ‘guru’ to help him develop at an impressive rate. “I enjoyed from day one working with him, because Pere is an ex-rider. So sometimes I found with him the same things I found when working with Adrien. They both raced in 500cc, Superbike, everything, so they can identify the same issues. Pere knows the bike really well and what settings we need to make. I trust him, and do not say, “but I want to try this instead…” I just try to give him the best information about the bike and he finds the best settings. Pere is very focused; sometimes you go into the box and he hardly sees you, because he is still staring at the screens, the data, and so on.”

Loris continued on the theme of being in such a good career position by knowing that fate and fortune play a part in racing. “The good luck thing is always important in your career. You have to have some good opportunities. But I think this is partly due to the good job we have done in the past. Like when Adrien said to me, when I wanted to race 125cc two-strokes at 14-years old, to move to a 600cc four-stroke instead. He said, “do not race, just do training and practice.”
I did not want to do that at all at first, but after two tests I was really happy and he said to me then, “When you are 20-years-old you are going to thank me, because by then you will be on the top.”

Maybe the most noticeable thing about Baz even now, even though his is the tallest rider around in the top class, is that he is the youngest. However good and ever-improving he is, there are still many of his rivals who look at his bike and team set-up and feel nothing but envy that ‘a kid’ got this big chance.
Loris understands fully, but also knows he is no kid anymore. “When I look I think everybody wants this bike now, even GP riders want it, I think! I am only 20-years old and all the riders ahead of me are much older, and the riders behind me in the championship are quite a bit older too. So I think this ride for me is down to the job we have done in previous years. I was always moving classes to be on a bigger bike as young as possible. I was on a 1000cc bike at the end of my 15th year. So at 20-years old I already have experience of this kind of bike for around five years.”

And next year, Loris? “If I stay here next year I think it would be the best thing, because we are working really well together and if it can stay like this for the rest of the year I think we can have really good pace next season. I am sure we can fight for the top three next year if we keep improving. Then we will have a base and experience of every track and that always helps a lot. But we can never know what is going to happen. Now I am only focused on this season.”

That did not stop him being asked about the immediate targets for Mr Baz, and the next stage.

“To go to the front, step-by-step. I trust the people I work with. Also I have changed the way I train at home. This year I have a target in the championship so I have to try to make good results in every race if I want to be in the top five at the end of the season. If you crash in a race you miss the points to do that. At Assen this year I knew I could be on the podium from day one, so I was doing everything I could to be inside the top three. At Imola, with two big crashes before the races I said ‘OK, just finish the first race the best you can and take the points.’ But in race two, I gave everything. I was destroyed after that round, for one week. I could not walk very well, I had a sprained foot and the finger, so I said, ‘OK rest and then get ready to move to the next round.’”

Soon after that next round came the most recent one, Silverstone, which was to become the scene of his second career SBK race win with KRT.

Loris is currently 6th in the championship and right now that is just one place behind an ambitious pre-defined target. He does, however, appear to be improving every time he gets on the bike.

Keep him in your sights because there are few, if any, better young talents in production-derived racing anywhere in the world right now.