French rider Loris Baz and his Dutch Ten Kate Racing WorldSBK squad have already made waves since their late inclusion on the 2019 grid.
At Portimao they were right dans le thick end again, third fastest overall and only pipped in the dying minutes. How that is possible is over to Baz to explain.
“I think that we’re improving and understanding the bike every time better,” he told bikesportnews.com. “Last year I always said that we needed time on the bike to understand everything better and try different things to improve the small details of the traction control, power delivery, the engine brake. T
“There are many small things that in the end when you are in the last second make the difference. We’ve been fast all the way through the test and we made a big improvement also this afternoon. I felt more comfortable and was able to be more consistent.
Toprak was really fast with the race tyre I managed to catch him, was within a tenth with the race tyre and the good thing is that I can finally make some qualifying laps without crashing. Last year every time I had a qualifying tyre I was bringing back gravel into the box.”
Next up for Baz is even more competitiveness, via an independent team which is in some ways an advantage for Ten Kate. “I’m really starting to understand this bike, and the team have really good ideas about the bike set-up and everything we tried here worked. We’ve a lot of support from Yamaha and all the guys in the team, Mick and Ronnie and all the mechanics, are working fantastically. It is really cool and I am happy.”
Baz said of his independent status, “I have the feeling that in Superbike maybe it’s not that bad to be an independent. We have big support from Yamaha and couldn’t do this without the work that goes into making the factory team and the bike is at this level because of the jobs they have done for many years.
“We have to keep that in mind. But we have some great ideas and I’m lucky that the team understands that I’m not the average rider. I’m taller, heavier than everyone and I need different things to go fast and to use the potential of the bike. That is what we are trying.”
This year coming Baz is confident he can make an improvement in consistency as well as his obvious advances in pace. “Last year I said that we were really fast and been missing out on podiums for nothing but I had the feeling that I didn’t know the bike. Even when I finished fourth at Magny-Cours I felt that I was even on the last lap, trying to understand the bike. Now we’re testing, making many laps – I think I did 180 laps in Jerez in November and maybe 160 here.
“There are still a lot of things for us to do of the season. The test in Australia will be important for us to understand other things because the track is completely different compared to Portimao.”