Baz the logical choice to replace van der Mark at Yamaha| WorldSBK staff | WorldSBK
With the departure of Michael van der Mark from the Yamaha fold, Paul Denning and the works-backed Yamaha WorldSBK effort have some serious thinking to do.
Having secured Toprak Razgatlioglu for the foreseeable future, the team have a space to fill for 2021 and plenty of riders will be circling.
Tom Sykes, Eugene Laverty, Leon Camier, Leon Haslam and Loris Baz to name but a few are all out of contract at the end this year. Even Cal Crutchlow has been mentioned in dispatches but he is the most doubtful.
Of the above, Baz is the most logical choice for Denning. At 27, the Frenchman is still a relative youngster compared to the WorldSBK over-30 club and he has spent a year riding the R1 in testing and competition with increasingly favourable results.
Baz knows the bike, knows the tracks, knows the game and has proven fast enough on a privateer bike that is relatively dissimilar to the Crescent-run machine in terms of cycle parts.
Logically, he fits the bill. However, you should never let logic get in the way of a good story.
Yamaha has the GRT operation as its junior team and in there are Federico Caricasulo and American Garrett Gerloff. Neither has yet had the chance to prove how good they are on a Superbike.
The Italian has pedigree from WorldSSP, coming runner-up in 2019 but seemed to struggle in testing and at Phillip Island. Gerloff is an equally-unknown quantity, pulling off some stunning one-lap dashes in tests but struggled in Australia coming away with two points and concussion after a warm-up altercation with Sandro Cortese.
Yamaha also has a multiple Superbike champion in the shape of Cameron Beaubier in America. Beaubier elected to remain across the pond this year to tidy up a fifth crown but could be tempted away as salaries in MotoAmerica are not what they once were ($4m a season for Mat Mladin and Ben Spies, it has been said).
And the firm also has Andrea Locatelli currently in WorldSSP and looking very strong, so a fast acceleration could also happen there. And we’ve only had one race weekend so far in 2020…