Loris Baz secured a full-time World Superbike seat with Kawasaki after his performance in 2012.
A youthful sensation in the overall SBK paddock when he won the Superstock 600 European championship in 2008 – aged only 15 - Baz then had a series of ups and occasional downs in the bigger Superstock classes. He also raced in many other classes and categories, in many countries in Europe, and ended up in the BSB championship in 2011.
Loris started the 2012 season inside the Kawasaki family as part of the MRS Kawasaki Superstock 1000 FIM Cup team, once more being guided by former racer Adrien Morillas, and in only three races took one podium on the Ninja ZX-10R
. He finished the 2012 season with a race win to his credit, of course, but not in Superstock. In the biggest production-derived class of all - the FIM Superbike World Championship
Racing of any kind has its risks and after regular KRT Superbike rider Joan Lascorz was injured in testing at Imola Loris was the rider who was eventually chosen to be his replacement to the end of the season, from the Donington round onward.
A brave and clever wet race win at Silverstone and two other weather affected podium finishes came along for Baz and he was duly signed up by KRT for what will be his first full season of SBK racing in 2013. His unflappable nature despite being so young, combined with strong self-confidence and talent, were tools that Kawasaki have found easy to work with.
We asked Loris – who will still be a teenager until February 1st 2013 - about his 2012 experiences and what he hopes for the season to come.
Q: How do you feel after such a year as you experienced in 2012? You did very well once you got the chance on a factory Superbike, yes?
Loris Baz testing his ZX-10R ahead of the 2013 World Superbike season.
A: Honestly, I feel really good and so I am looking forward to next season. As I always said, I need to feel like family with the people I work with, and I felt it straight away in Kawasaki; first in Superstock, and then later with the Superbike. It wasn’t easy to join in the middle of the season but I took it like it was the opportunity of my life and I couldn’t ask for a better result when I look forward now.
Q: Despite your age you are quite an experienced rider and have ridden in many categories. How much has this experience helped to bring you on faster than other riders of your age?
A: I think that this is the key. Adrien Morillas, my coach and ex-team manager, always said that I had to go on a 600cc bike as soon possible. That’s why I was on it at 14-years-old and then as soon possible on a 1000cc bike. So, I joined World Superbike at 19-years old but I already had six years on a four-stroke bike, four years on a 1000 and already some experience of an SBK machine in BSB last year.
This helped me a lot to understand the KRT bike, even if it’s again totally different to ride from anything before!
Q: It has not been all smooth progress in your short career, but do you think that both problems and positives can combine to make you stronger overall?
A: Of course. I think if everything comes easy to you and you don’t have to fight for it, then you don’t appreciate the opportunity as much. I know where I am and I know where I want to go, I just have to do the right things to get it.
Q: How would you describe your personality to someone you had never met before?
A: Ha-ha! COOL? Ha-ha! I don’t know… it’s never easy to speak about myself. But… If I have to answer, I think I am easy going, somebody who is honest and I always say what I think. But maybe other people should answer this question!?
Q: What about 2013, what are your targets?
A: I don’t have any pressure. I just want to try my best and I think if we try our best we will have a good season. I want to start the season with the same target as I finished this one, taking it race-by-race and trying to score my first dry top five finish as soon possible. Then I will try to stay at that level, and improve even further.