Kawasaki Racing Team’s Loris Baz speaks about the 2014 season, his relationship with both team and teammate Sykes and his future in motorcycle racing.
What do you think of your season so far?
“This season has gone very well. We have made a lot of progress since the first round and we have always been fighting for the podium. We are still in the fight for the world title. It’s the third year I’ve been working with this team, although it’s only my second full season. Little by little, we have gelled together and we now know each other very well. We have a good level but also some progress to make, which is both encouraging and satisfying.”
There are three rounds left this season. Do you think you can still fight for the title?
“Indeed, there are only three rounds left. It’s a shame because I lost quite a few points in the last round. I needed as many races as possible in order to catch up the leaders. There are only three rounds left but the situation is the same for all of us. We are going on three tracks that can be good for me. I was fast in Jerez last winter. I know Magny-Cours very well and I really like this track. We will do our best to catch up and claim the second place. The first place is a bit far, but you never know.”
You got eight podium finishes so far… What do you need do get a victory and finally grasp that first place?
“We’re really close. There’s just a little something missing. On every track where I was fighting for a victory, I was always the fastest but lost time on one or two corners. It’s always the same type of corner: long and slow corners, where I struggle with grip. We’ve made progress but we still have work to do. There’re still many things to improve. The good thing is that we know where we have to progress and win some time.”
What was your training programme during the summer break?
“I took some time off because it’s not often that we have some free time and you’ve got to make the most of it. I then got back to training to make sure I’ll be ready for Jerez. Unfortunately, we cannot ride our bikes during the break. Otherwise, I think many teams would have done a test session. So I did some motocross, quad and supermoto. When I don’t ride for a long time, I have no problem to quickly get back into the rhythm so these breaks are never a problem for me.”
Now that it has been confirmed that the South-African round won’t be replaced, do you have any ideas of a way to compensate for the lost points?
“I don’t know. We could do something like in BSB and have 3 races: one on Saturday and two on Sunday, with less laps.”
This season, the EVO class made its debut along in World Superbikes. There will be others changes next year with new technical rules. How do you the see future of the championship?
“It was not a bad thing to have this new class. Now, we need to find a way so that as many teams as possible can stay. There are less and less teams and I heard that there would be less teams next year, that the championship would look a little bit more like MotoGP but I have the feeling that the organisers are trying to differentiate it from MotoGP and to get the championship back to its roots. I think a solution is necessary. The EVO class was one of those. It made possible for some riders to race in this championship, put on a good show, and hopefully they can stay in the championship for the next seasons.”
Tom Sykes, your teammate, has signed a new deal to race with the Kawasaki Racing Team for two more seasons. What is coming up for you?
“I have several options in MotoGP as well as in Superbike. To be more precise, I have several options in MotoGP and one in Superbike. I don’t see myself racing in Superbike for another team than Kawasaki. I’m waiting to hear from them. I think that their priority was to confirm one of the two riders and so they signed Sykes. We’re in talks but it takes a little bit more time than usual because many people are taking holidays in August. But on one side or another, I should know something pretty soon. I would like to stay in Superbike and try to win the title, but we have to see if we all want the same thing here.”
This season, you have been a tough opponent for Tom. Has your relationship changed?
“Everything was good until Sepang. He started to complain about it before that race but that was not a problem for me. There has always been a good spirit in the team. In Sepang, I made a mistake but it was not that bad. From that moment on, the atmosphere has changed. He was very upset but everyone tried to calm him down because these things can happen in racing and he also took other riders down at some point in his career. They were not his teammates, I did take down my teammate and it was very unlucky. It is something that happens in races. We race with bike that go over 300 km/h, with only a few centimeters between each of us. Mistakes are easy to make and in Sepang, I made one when I was trying to avoid him. The tensions have come down, he is doing his championship and I’m trying to be the best that I can. There are not two teams in our team but we each now work on their own.”
If you happen to have the choice between MotoGP and Superbike, what would you prefer?
“It depends on the conditions of each deal. The goal is obviously to race in Grand Prix. But it could also be interesting to stay in Superbike and fight for the title. The coming days are going to be important but so far, I don’t know what will happen. It’s 50/50 so far and I’m interested in everything. Will it be MotoGP or Superbike I don’t know, but I surely will give my 100%, I will fight.”