One day after his 23rd birthday, Loris Baz was having a lovely afternoon testing his MotoGP bike at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia (where I just rode the new Kawasaki ZX-10R) when the soft compound Michelin rear tire he was riding on blew up—at 180 mph.
Initially, there were concerns that the gearbox had an issue which caused the rear to lock or a linkage issue, but it was later revealed to just be an issue with the tire. Michelin pulled the soft compound tire from the day’s testing and will have a lot of work to do before anyone’s willing to hop back on one.
Here’s another angle:
Miraculously, Baz survived mostly unharmed, with only a bruised elbow and stiff back. He later had this to say about the incident:
“It was my second run and I had the new tire just to make the lap time. Going into the last corner I heard something strange, but I just wanted to finish the lap. At the beginning I thought it was the engine or the gearbox, but looks like it’s just a tire problem. So maybe the tire touching the bike, maybe that was the noise I was hearing. But no strange feeling, no chattering, nothing – so I couldn’t expect that the tire was going to explode like this on the straight.
The rear locked really fast. So I tried to take the clutch, that’s the first thing you do, but you know that you’re going to crash. I knew I was going to crash and when you are sliding you just hope that you’re not going to hit the wall or someone hit you from behind… Really lucky to be here.”
MotorcycleNews.com has some exclusive photos taken of the crash from the other direction, which we highly suggest you take a peek at. Because they’re incredible.
Dear Loris, we’re glad you’re alright and hope the rest of your 24th year of life is healthy and wonderful. You’ve certainly already had a year’s worth of bad luck.