What a day it turned out to be for the Avintia Ducati boys as they finished the 11th round of the MotoGP, at the Automotodrom Brno in the Czech Republic, in fourth and fifth, with Loriz Baz finishing ahead of his teammate Hector Barbera as the lead Ducati.
Avintia Ducati riders renew contracts with their team
Maybe it was the fact that the two riders have both had their contracts renewed that has allowed them to relax and now concentrate on the remainder of the season knowing their future is safe for another season, and the promise they will be competing on the Ducati Desmosedici GP that the factory riders are running with at the moment?
New sponsorship for Avintia Ducati Team
The team received a new sponsor ahead of the Czech Republic round indicated by the purple strip at the bottom of the fairing. Face Petroleum, a brand of Ital Refining who ‘specialize in the wholesale business side of petroleum products’ will be sponsoring the Avintia Ducati Racing Team until the end of the season.
Mixed start to the weekend
Rewind to day one of the meeting and it was Barbera who as usual made the stronger start out of the duo. He set the fastest time during FP1 and FP2; the time he set during the second session was enough to secure him a place in Qualifying 2 as riders were unable to beat his time even though he only finished 18th fastest in FP3. Baz’s best result was during FP2 when he finished 12th fastest.
During qualifying Barbera made things work and qualified for fifth on the grid. Baz could only manage seventh in Q1 which meant he would be starting the race from 17th on the grid. However come race day, it rained heavily, and out of the three independent team Ducatis that led during the session, Baz was third fastest (Barbera was 13th).
Tyre choices so significant at a wet Brno
It came down to tyre choices that helped the French man get to his best ever finish in the MotoGP; a result that was much needed after his injury sustained at the Mugello GP which meant he could not compete for a few rounds. Baz opted for the hard compound full wet rear Michelin tyre and the soft front, whereas Barbera chose the soft compound for both the front and rear.
Barbera got a good start as did a lot of the riders who did opt for the softer tyre. The factory Ducati Team were dominating, leading ahead of Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati), and Barbera sat behind them waiting to make his move. He began overtaking and soon found himself in second until just 10 laps remained and he began to experience problems.
Technical difficulties for Barbera, extra grip for Baz
Overcoming a lot of vibrations and a serious lack of power, he still managed to battle on and finished the race in fifth position claiming 11 championship points. It would have been fourth however Baz, who had started from the back, waited for the track to dry out before he started his pursuit.
He travelled through the pack, benefiting from the grip he had with the hard rear tyre, overtaking those in front of him one by one until he got to fourth past Barbera collecting 13 points. Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez would have been his next victim… but unfortunately he ran out of time!
Much needed result for the French man
Baz felt they “rode a great race” and that they “took the right decision with the tyre choice”. Explaining why he opted for the hard compound rear tyre he said, “As I’m heavier than the rest of the riders I always have to use the harder compounds,” and he spoke of prior to the race they decided to use the hard rear tyre “which was perfect”.
Feeling doubt over his decision he said, “You never know if the rain comes back.” However he they “recovered from the rear step by step” and he speculated that “with some more laps we could have even gone further”. After the race he believed that they “needed more experience” with the hard rear as he found “the bike was a little bit hard” and he found it “difficult to overtake the other riders”.
Speaking about his best result in the MotoGP he was left feeling “extremely happy” and felt that it was “the best way to thank the team for the new contract next year”. The Frenchman, now 20th in the championship (24 points) said he was “Also looking forward to get a good result to dedicate it to Luis Salom, and finally we did it!”
Barbera happy despite technical difficulties
Barbera who remains the second highest placed independent team rider in the championship in ninth (76 points) was also “happy because we did a good race”. He described that after 12 laps he “had a technical problem” which meant he then had “limited performance from the bike during the last ten laps”.
Trying to overcome the issues he “tried to do the maximum to stay at the front”, he did what he could to “save the tyres” by riding “really smoothly” but still he “finished the race with some difficulties”.
Still, he was happy because he knows “every race we get closer” and he hopes that “sooner or later” that he and the Avintia Ducati team will “get the best result we deserve”.
Like Baz he wanted to “say a big thankyou to the team” as he said “they made it possible”. Speaking highly of his teammate he said, “Big congratulations to Loris! I’m really happy for him because he’s a good rider and an even better person, and he needed this result.”
Discussing their relationship he described how the season “started to turn really difficult for him”, yet the Spanish rider said, “I always support him, I encourage him, but when you get inside a hole the best way is to get out is like he did… with a good result!”
Both riders did a really good job this weekend, and it has highlighted how good the team work well together in tough situations. It is amazing to see how far they have come… especially on a two year old bike!