Once again one-time KRT factory WorldSBK rider and MotoGP runner Loris Baz was right at the sharp end of the works bike-heavy Phllip Island WorldSBK testing timesheets, second behind five-time champion Jonathan Rea and nobody else.
It was all down to testing, said Baz, as well as the combined talents inside his small, privateer team which is showing the works Yamahas the way it’s done.
“Like we said last year, we needed some tests, and I think we did a good job all winter since November, trying things and the idea we had to make the bike better for me, so I am really happy,” Baz told bikesportnews.com.
“We were strong in Jerez, in Portimao and here, so that’s cool. We still need some speed down the straight and I think we will have something this weekend with the new engines coming, but I am really happy with all the work we have done. Now we can start the season easily knowing the bike and the feeling. Much better than last year.”
There was no qualifying tyre for Baz in setting his second fastest time, but he did find improvements on fresh race rubber.
“We did not have a Q this week but last year I struggled with the qualifying tyre and also with the new tyres.
“In Portimao I have been able to work on this and here I have been able to go fast every time we put in a new tyre and I improved. Apart from the last run because we changed the set-up of the bike for race distance and it was not as good anymore.
I think we have improved that so we will see with the qualifying tyre. It is not so easy to bring the Q until the end of the lap. We will see on Saturday but for sure we are strong and I am really confident going into the weekend to start the season with a good result.”
All three top Yamaha riders are have scored race wins of some kind at some time in WorldSBK, and Baz agrees with the two main works riders that improvements have made the bike in the chassis performance. However, Baz is using a Suter swingarm which the works boys aren’t.
“I think the thing from the Yamaha the edge grip is good, you have to sort a little bit the movement that sometimes comes at the edge, but the natural grip of the bike is good, I think we all have the same problem sometime. But I am riding a bit different bike, different setup, not the same swingarm anymore - many small things that make the bike a little bit different.
“Also more like I want and this is good because we cannot compare Mike and Toprak against me. I am much heavier, and taller than them, and riding in a different place in the bike. Even if sometimes the problems are the same the way to solve them is not exactly the same.”