A French rider has never won the AMA Superbike Championship. In fact, a Frenchman has yet to win an AMA Superbike race. Loris Baz is hoping to change both of those this year after inking a deal this week that will see him aboard the Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York Panigale V4 R in the 2021 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship.
“Our only goal is to win, to be honest,” Baz said in an exclusive interview with MotoAmerica. “I don’t give myself two chance. I just want to win. I don’t go for something else. I know the level is high (in MotoAmerica) and I’m not taking it easy when I say I want to win. I know what I have to do, and I know how fast I have to ride if I want to win there. It’s a lot of change for me personally and a big risk moving to America and I think I still have my place in World
Superbike. I want to use this opportunity to win and use it for the future. I’m happy for the opportunity that the team and Ducati and the championship gives me and I will do everything I can to win the championship this year.”
Baz comes to the MotoAmerica series with boatloads of racing experience at nearly every level – from British Superbikes to MotoGP and all stops in between.
“It’s really cool and exciting,” Baz said. “I like the challenge and I never chose the easy way in my life. When I was in World Superbike, I tried everything to be in MotoGP. I like to challenge myself and to try new things. If I see it’s not possible going the way I want, I have an open mind and I can go somewhere else. It’s what I’m doing now. I know a little bit the championship, I know the guys, I’ve been following for years and I always watch the races. I know a little bit, but I know it will be like when I joined British Superbikes with some crazy tracks… I have everything to learn, but I am looking forward to it.”
The newly turned 28-year-old Baz is fresh off a World Superbike Championship effort with Ten Kate Racing Yamaha in 2020 with the Frenchman ending up eighth in the championship with four podiums. It was Baz’s second season with the Ten Kate team as he finished 10th in the 2019 World Superbike Championship on the Dutch team’s Yamaha YZF-R1.
Baz’s best season of World Superbike racing came in 2014 when he finished fifth in the championship on the Kawasaki Racing Team with nine podiums. In total, Baz has two career World Superbike wins with those victories coming in 2012 and 2013 with Kawasaki.
Baz also raced in MotoGP from 2015 to 2017, competing in 49 races. His best championship finish was 17th with the Forward Yamaha team in 2015.
“I’m feeling good,” Baz said. “It’s been pretty quick, honestly, since the first call we had. We’ve been working really hard to make the World Superbike happen, but it was harder. I’ve had my mind fully on this (World Superbike) so in the beginning I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t know.’ In 24 hours, I switched my mind and said, ‘Okay, go for it. Let’s do this.’ I like the challenge. I’ve always been like this and I don’t like to be on the grid to be 10 or 15. I like to be somewhere with some opportunity to win. When I understood this opportunity to go to America and win with Ducati, I was full on it so since the first day, 24 hours, and it was only big motivation to do it.”
Baz knows what he’s up against in coming to a series and a country that is new to him. It will be just the second time racing on Dunlop tires and he will have a new team, a new crew and new racetracks to learn. None of those faze him.
“I think there will be a time (to learn) for each thing,” Baz said. “I’m not scared of anything and there’s not one thing that I think, ‘Oh, this is going to be tough.’ I’ve been racing nearly every tire and every bike in my life. I have only done one race with Dunlop, in the Germany Championships, but I’m not sacred of that. Racing with many tires and many bikes in my life. Learning the tracks is something we are used to and there is a process to do it and I’ve always been pretty quick to do it. Learning the bike and the tires will be at the first test, may be the end of February for the first time. That will be when I really focus on learning how to ride the bike and ride the tires. The target is to be ready for the qualifying on Saturday and the races on Sunday.”
The HSBK Ducati team started last year with a bang, winning the first two MotoAmerica Stock 1000 races at Road America with PJ Jacobsen. The New Yorker, however, was injured in round two and didn’t return. At the end of the season, however, it all turned around for the team with the arrival of Lorenzo Zanetti.
The Italian made his MotoAmerica debut at Ridge Motorsports Park in Washington, finishing seventh in race one and crashing out of race two. When he came back for the final two rounds (six races) at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Zanetti was armed with a full-on Ducati Corse Superbike and the results were much different. He finished on the podium in all six of the races at Indy and Laguna and gave Ducati its first AMA Superbike win since 2010 on Sunday morning in Indianapolis.
“We are thrilled to announce that we are back with Ducati and this time as an official entry in the Superbike class,” team principal Bobby Shek said. “We did our homework at the end of last year and feel like with the support from Ducati Corse and a rider like Baz we have a good chance to fight for the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship.”
Also joining the efforts as team manager is Ducati legend Eraldo Ferracci. The owner of the Philadelphia-based Fast by Ferracci formed the first American Ducati factory race team in 1988 – Team Fast by Ferracci Ducati. The team took its first of two World Superbike titles in 1991, followed by two AMA Superbike titles. Led by Ferracci, Fast By Ferracci became the most successful Ducati team in the world during those years.
“Our recent acquisition of Ducati New York, combined with the joint venture of Ducati New York, North American Warhorse, and HSBK Racing, has resulted in a state-of-the-art service/race shop,” says Louis DeNaples III, principal at Warhorse Powersports Group.
“Along with the collaboration with our long-time dear friend and mentor, Mr. Ferracci, there is no better way to show our commitment to Ducati, MotoAmerica, and the sport. I’d also like to give an extra thanks to Ducati North America for the ongoing support with the new team effort.”
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