French World Superbike rider Loris Baz will step up to the Red Bull KTM MotoGP squad this weekend at the British Grand Prix, as he fills in for the injured Pol Espargaro on the Austrian manufacturer’s bike.
Espargaro suffered spinal and collarbone injuries in a high-speed crash at the Czech Grand Prix, leaving himself temporarily without feeling in his limbs after bruising his spinal cord. But while that injury is now making rapid progress, damage also inflicted to his collarbone in the same fall has ruled him out of this weekend’s race at Silverstone.
And, with MotoGP rules stating that KTM are obliged to replace an injured rider after ten days, the squad initially looked to be low on options. Unable to fall back on a successful superbike team like many of their rivals and with test rider Mika Kallio also out injured after a crash at the German Grand Prix while on wildcard duties, their options were limited.
But with Baz having recent experience on MotoGP machinery thanks to two successful seasons with Avintia Ducati in 2017 and 2018 and with the Frenchman not tied to a factory contract in WSB, his Althea BMW bosses have graciously agreed to release the Frenchman to replace Espargaro.
The news will come as a welcome relief to Bradley Smith, with the British rider now not left solely flying the flag for KTM at his home race – and not left to set up the RC16 using only his own data.