Bonovo rider Loris Baz finishes the Aragon test in fifth place and gives encouragement to his BMW brand colleagues: but race pace is a concern for the Frenchman

The final WSBK test before the season opener saw Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki), Toprak Razgatlioglu (Yamaha) and Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) set the pace. For BMW spearhead Scott Redding, the test did not go according to plan (for the British rider’s reaction). Redding crashed twice on Tuesday and ended up outside the top 10, but things went much better for BMW brand colleague Loris Baz. The Frenchman took BMW into the top five.

“I’m not satisfied yet. But we have definitely improved and are on the right track,” “Since the first test in Jerez, we have been able to improve more and more together with the team and BMW. That encourages us, but there is still a lot of work ahead of us.”

What Scott Redding says about Loris Baz’s fabulous times

Brand mate Redding puts his brand mate’s fast lap times into perspective: “He was often hanging off the back of another rider,” Redding notes, adding, “I know that makes a difference with this bike. Of course you have to ride the lap time first. I don’t want to belittle his performance.”

“I was riding behind Johnny and as a result I was lucky,” confirms Baz. “Our race pace is worse than our pace on a fast lap in direct comparison to Johnny. After a few laps our bike is more difficult to ride than his.”

“I tried different strategies. The bike worked well, but I had to think of many things. That’s why it was difficult to fully concentrate on riding,” admits the Bonovo BMW rider, who sees Kawasaki as an orientation for BMW.

“Johnny is Johnny. He was a good comparison for us. He is our target, our reference. But we realise that Johnny and Toprak are faster than the rest of the field when it comes to race pace,” explains Baz. And what is a realistic target for the season opener this weekend?

“Before the test I said that I could only say something after the test. But even after the test, it’s hard for me to make a prediction. The team would be happy if we make it into the top 10. I would be very happy with a top 6 result. That’s a realistic target at the moment,” notes Baz, adding, “There are three very fast Yamahas, then Johnny and Alex (Lowes). There are a lot of fast riders.”

Eugene Laverty only in 13th position with big gap

Bonovo teammate Eugene Laverty struggled mightily to match the pace at the test and looked somewhat disillusioned at the Aragon paddock meeting. Laverty ended up 13th in the standings, with a crash adding to his disillusionment.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t find a way forward on Tuesday. The temperatures will be different at the weekend. But in the test I had no grip at all, even with a fresh tyre. That worries me a bit at the moment,” confessed the Northern Irishman.

“It looks like the bigger BMW riders are getting the tyre to work better. I had an extreme amount of slip on the rear wheel,” Laverty reported. “Loris worked well and showed that it can be done. So we have to deal with the problem and find a solution.”