Baz: Podiums for Ten Kate Yamaha are "realistic"
Loris Baz says podium finishes for the new-look Ten Kate World Superbike team on its return this year is a “realistic” target.
Former world champion squad Ten Kate announced plans to return to WSBK in 2019 as a factory Yamaha-backed one-rider effort last week, after the Dutch team was forced to declare bankruptcy last November when its 18-year association with Honda came to an end.
Confirming R1 machinery for Baz – who was also initially left without a place on the '19 grid – Ten Kate said that it hopes to be on back the grid for the Imola round next month, or the Jerez event at the start of June at the latest.
Speaking to Motorsport.com at the team's launch event at Assen, Baz says the fact the R1 in the hands of the Crescent and GRT riders is “on the podium every week” means Ten Kate can aim for similar results.
“Well, the bike is on the podium every week, so I don't know why we can't be on the podium," Baz said when asked of his aims.
“Of course, if we arrive at the race weekend and have never tested the bike, we will need a bit of time.
“But as soon as we make one or two test sessions - we have already one planned before Jerez – I'm sure we can arrive on a good level.
“I kept riding this winter on mini bikes, and I'm sure I can be fast straight away on the bike.
“So I think it is realistic to say we will fight for the podium soon.”
Turning down BSB/MotoAmerica rides no "gamble"
Baz, who rode for the Althea BMW team in WSBK last year, revealed he had offers to race in British Superbikes and in MotoAmerica for '19, but opted against a switch as he “wasn't sure” he could fight at the front of those series.
He admits “nothing was really certain” with the Ten Kate project until recently, but does not feel he took a “gamble” by holding out for the Dutch team.
“There was nothing available to fight where I wanted to fight, so instead of fighting really far behind, I just wanted to wait for an opportunity to come back where I think I can fight,” Baz recalled.
“[The winter] was long, but already we start to talk about this project with Ten Kate in December.
“But it was really long, because even for them it's a big thing to change [manufacturer] and they had many things to put in place.
“But until a few weeks ago, nothing was really certain. So it was not a gamble, because I knew the situation.
“I had a few opportunities to go to England [in BSB] or MotoAmerica, but I really wanted to go there to win, and I wasn't sure of that.
“And when I start to hear about the project from Ten Kate I took the risk to wait and see if it was going to happen.”
Loris Baz, Althea Racing
Photo by: Gold and Goose / LAT Images
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