How did you come to team up with Cvstos?
I live near Geneva and I met Sassoun Sirmakes, the Cvstos CEO, at a party which Dani Pedrosa also attended. I visited the boutique, we hit it off and the rest happened quite quickly.
Do you have a particular interest in watches?
My grandfather trained at the watchmaking school in Cluse, and he made watch components in his machining factory, so watches are a part of my family. I’m from Sallanches in the Vallée de l’Arve, which is also a watchmaking centre. For me, watchmaking and competition are closely linked: they are both about precision mechanics. And I’ve always had a stopwatch in my head! Even when I was little, I was always asking my mother to time me, whatever I happened to be doing.
Were you involved in the design of the Cvstos Challenge Chrono II Blue Carbon that we’re both wearing at the moment?
Yes, a little.I was wearing special red-white-and-blue leathers and helmet, and we designed the watch along the same lines, with a red strap, to reflect the colours of the French flag. The first edition was launched at the French Grand Prix in Le Mans. It was a nice watch but I preferred a white strap. You see a lot of women’s watches with a white strap, but they’re much rarer on a men’s watch, and I think they look great. So that was it – I chose the colours of the first edition for the French Grand Prix, and then the white strap, so it could be worn every day.
The MotoGP season wraps up today with the Valencia Grand Prix. How has your second season gone?
It’s been quite a complicated year. Everything started well, we did our winter training here, and throughout the winter everything was going fine. Then, in my first race, my gears started to slip and I crashed. After that I had a number of technical problems, and in two consecutive races I was hit by other riders and crashed out, before breaking my foot in 16 places in Mugello. Unfortunately, I was involved in a big crash at Silverstone and was injured again.At that point I had to put the brakes on. But I came back and rode a great race in Brno, where I finished fourth, in the rain. So it’s been a difficult season, with a lot of bad luck, falls and injuries that weren’t my fault, because I was hit. It can be difficult to accept, but that’s racing, and sometimes that’s just how the season goes. The main thing is to keep trying to improve – or at least get back to the level you were at – stay confident and have fun.
You have just signed on with Avintia for another year.
Yes, I’m looking forward to getting this season out of the way, so that I can start looking ahead to 2017. On Tuesday we’ll begin testing the new Ducati. I’m not familiar with it at all, and I’ve never ridden one, but it’s the bike Scott Redding is currently using. I’m sure it will be better; it’s a very good bike and I’m looking forward to making a fresh start. With all the problems I’ve had this year I’ve raced very little in dry conditions. I need to put in a good few long days of testing – and this will have to be over the winter – to get my confidence back, find the adjustments that suit me, and start having fun on the bike again.
Have you set yourself any targets?
I set myself targets for this year, and I achieved very few of them. For next year my targets are the same: to get into the top 10 as often as possible, to score points regularly, to give people a few surprises, and to avoid the problems I had this year. As long as I’m having fun, the results will follow.
Did you always want to be a motorcycle racer?
Yes. I come from a family of bikers. My mum ran a mountain restaurant and the only way to get up there was in a 4×4, a quad bike or on a motorbike. I was riding them from an early age and I loved it. When I was around 7 or 8, I used to tell people I wanted to be a motorcycle racer, and everyone said, “That’s not a job, it’s a sport.” And I said, “I’ll make it my job!” So yes, it was a foregone conclusion; I never considered doing anything else.
Do you ever think about the dangers of racing?
Whenever I get injured and I end up in hospital, I ask myself, “Why are you doing this?” And when the operation is over, the only thing I can think about is getting back on the bike as quickly as possible, because that’s what I love. You do think about accidents, but it’s one of the risks of the job and, frankly, I’m convinced that you’re less likely to hurt yourself on a racing track than you are riding your bike into work every morning.
How would you describe the world of motorcycle racing? There are some strong personalities and fierce rivalries, for example between Rossi, Marquez and Lorenzo. What’s it like from the inside?
The atmosphere is pretty good. Coming from Superbike, I expected worse. Here, every rider has their own personal objectives; the top 4 or 5 are competing for the championship title, and the season’s long, with 18 races, so it’s natural to have some tensions. Because I’m not in competition with them I see it from another angle, and what I see is a group of good guys. I’ve known Marquez for 10 years, because I started at the same time as him. Rossi is a great guy, he invited me to go and ride with him at his ranch. Lorenzo, when you see him on TV, he’s in his shell and he doesn’t seem very approachable. But away from the cameras he’s really very friendly. When I decided to join the MotoGP, he was the first one to say that, instead of writing me off because of my height (editor’s note: Loris Baz is unusually tall for a rider) I should be given a chance to show what I could do. Pedrosa – what can I say? He’s super nice. All motorcycle racers can be a little bit shy – unless they’re Rossi – just like anyone else.