Ten Kate Yamaha’s rise and rise continued on the opening WorldSBK raceday at Magny Cours, as Loris Baz finished fourth in race one.
The hometown hero had pace for the whole clash and was only denied a podium place by a late charge from former World Champion Tom Sykes.
“It was the same for everyone but it was not easy starting the race with only 20 minutes, with no experience with the Yamaha here, so we did not know exactly what kind of set-up we needed,” Baz told bikesportnews.com.
“We made some changes after FP3. At the beginning of the race it was really strong, but there were some parts where I was losing a lot, mainly in the first gears, as the power map was not the best. I was always losing three tenths.
Then I was fighting hard to come back in the rest of the track. Then, the bike was getting harder and harder, the grip was starting to go away, and I was starting to make some mistakes at the end.”
It is testament to just how much ground has been covered by Ten Kate in a few months that Baz felt he lost a podium rather than nearly gained one.
“I am really disappointed at the moment but a few weeks ago I could not imagine I would be disappointed with a fourth place. But I was smelling the podium a bit too much today! And at home - but anyway I think it is my best result at home in WorldSBK.”
Baz knew that Sykes would be coming at the end, and he had no answer for the Englishman who had a better late race set-up.
“I saw Tom coming back and honestly I could not brake like the first part of the race, so I had to ride a bit different,” said Baz.
I knew he was going to try something so when he tried and passed, I tried to stay as close as possible, as I thought I had the pace to make a move on the last lap. Also on the straight the bike was strong, but I nearly had a massive highside on the last lap, going out of the 180 corner. On the right I lost the rear really hard, but then it was over.
“I was a bit too far to try something. I knew Tom was going to try something, when you are that close. At the beginning of the race I was faster than him and then at that moment he was faster, so when you are in this position you are trying to close the door - but I knew he was going to try something.”
Baz has two more home races to run in at Magny, and after almost disappearing inside the WorldSBK paddock altogether at the start of the year, with no ride until Ten Kate came back into the fold, he is still counting his blessings in time for Sunday.
“I am still happy because we are improving and getting closer and a few weeks ago we were trying to improve the bike to be in the top five, and now we are trying to improve the bike to fighting with those guys until the end of the race,” he said.
“It is cool. We know what we miss for Sunday and I did not feel comfortable all race on the bike, so it is still good to bring a fourth place with the bad feeling I had on the bike. For sure I want more now and there have been a few fourth places lately for me, so we need to go one more step.”