Ten Kate To Return To WorldSBK With Yamaha And Loris Baz At Jerez

Ten Kate Racing will be making a return to the WorldSBK paddock. At either Imola or Jerez, the Dutch squad will be racing a Yamaha YZF-R1 with Loris Baz. With still some testing and development left to do, racing at Imola in early May is a tough challenge, but Ten Kate will definitely be racing at the Jerez round of WorldSBK to be held from 7th – 9th of June.

The switch to Yamaha is a dramatic break with the past for Ten Kate. The team grew out of a Honda dealership in Nieuwleusen, 45km south of Assen, and went on to win multiple championships in both the World Supersport and World Superbike categories. But on 30th October last year, Ten Kate were told at a meeting in Amsterdam that Honda would not be continuing with the team, but had chosen to partner with Althea and Moriwaki instead.

That decision had enormous consequences. Ten Kate was already developing engines ready for 2019, had ordered parts and supplies for the following season, and had signed a second rider alongside Leon Camier. Coming too late for Ten Kate to seek alternatives, the decision forced the race team into bankruptcy, and caused them to completely reevaluate their plans. After speaking to multiple other manufacturers, they eventually reached agreement with Yamaha Europe to race in WorldSBK for the 2019 season, with the first signs of a deal coming shortly before Christmas, while the details of the deal were only agreed in January.

The reasons for Ten Kate to choose Yamaha and Loris Baz to choose Yamaha and Ten Kate was the completeness of the package. Ten Kate will be supported by Yamaha Motor Europe, and will start with similar equipment to the Crescent Yamaha and GRT Yamaha teams. But Ten Kate will also work on their own development of the bike, and hope to make the bike much more competitive by the end of the year.

The deal also has a secondary benefit for both Ten Kate and Yamaha. The Ten Kate dealership also has a Racing Products shop, where they sell parts to professional and amateur racers. Ten Kate also sold the parts which they had developed in their own racing program, both in World Supersport and World Superbikes. But with Honda stepping slowly back from production racing, and fewer riders using Hondas for either racing or track days, Ten Kate Racing Products was starting to branch out to other manufacturers. As a by-product of Ten Kate's deal to race a Yamaha in WorldSBK, Ten Kate are now also selling Yamaha's GYTR line of racing products.

The goal for Ten Kate and Loris Baz is to aim for as many podiums as possible. With the championship already well underway, it is too late to chase a championship position, Baz said, so the objective is to focus on results race by race.

Team principal Ronald ten Kate described the range of emotions he had gone through after hearing from Honda that they would not be continuing the relationship. Anger, frustration, sadness, confusion, he had been through them all, he said. But the most difficult thing for him had been on the drive back from the meeting, knowing that the end of the contract meant that he would have to lay off so many of the people he has worked with for years. From a staff of over 20, Ten Kate will be returning to WorldSBK with a crew of around 8.

Asked if he felt any satisfaction at seeing the Hondas continue to struggle in WorldSBK in the hands of Althea and Moriwaki, Ronald ten Kate shrugged his shoulders. "Whether they are at the front or at the back, it doesn't really affect us," he said. At least it demonstrated that HRC had not been holding any magic solutions back from the team.

Loriz Baz had been prepared to wait for the Ten Kate team, while they prepared for the new season. After a difficult year in 2018, the Frenchman was willing to wait for a competitive package. He had been in talks for rides in BSB and MotoAmerica, but the combination of Ten Kate and a Yamaha R1 was worth holding out for. Baz had spent the winter working even harder on his fitness, in the hope that he would get a chance in 2019.

That chance will come at either Imola or Jerez. If Ten Kate go racing at Imola, then it will be very much a shakedown, with little time for testing or preparation. But they expect to have everything in place for Jerez, and to be able to go testing before the race there.

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Best wishes to the TKR boys. They know how to win and the R1 is doing well. Baz is a nice guy too and it would be good to see the nice guys win.

I’m saying nothing about the mob that dumped them in such an unprofessional, nasty way.

This is great news! I am glad Ten Kate and Loris Baz are back in WSBK! If the Ten Kate group can work some of their development magic like they did in the Colin Edwards days, I would not be surprised that bike beating the factory Yamahas by the end of the season!

weren't in another time zone performance-wise this would be exciting news. As it stands I think we'll be watching Baz fighting for top 10's at best, it'll be tough enough for him to deal with the gang of already very fast Yamaha riders out there (who are all much smaller & lighter). 

Now if Ten Kate sticks with Yamaha for several seasons, well that's another story. Every manufacturer besides Ducati is basically going to have to completely reinvent how they approach WSBK racing from 2020 on, offering machines revving in excess of 2k rpms beyond what they do now. If that eventually happens, then I'll get excited to see what Ten Kate can bring to the party considering their extensive experience.

Good to see the return of Ten Kate racing. Even better with Yamaha rather than the "partner" they worked with before & who treated TKR so shabbily.

Good luck to Loris Baz. Too tall Loris, former gp racer & SBK race winner.

Looking forward to seeing them at Jerez.

"Hey, can you take me with you too? Please?!"
-Leon Camier

Welcome back Ten Kate and Baz. We have a (re)new(ed) major player. This is great news for everyone, except Honda of course, and to a lesser extent everyone outside the top 7-8 or so w another bike to chase.

Agreed about Baz's size and the historically slightly less grunt/more finesse R1. But it looks like it isn't down on power a lot right now. The GYT Team bike is going gangbusters. Baz is a good rider, and amongst those available now a good pick. Desireable ride.

Ten Kate developing and selling race parts in conjunction w GYTR? For Superbikes AND the prolific R6? That has to put a BIG and much deserved smile on their faces. Just the R6 stuff will outsell their entire Honda line. And they have bikes people are happy to race and work with again.

I will think what I bet they aren't saying re Honda. Before they were dumped, they were chronically given too little to work with. A renewed enthusiasm and joy of life is right behind that hopefully brief bitterness. The racing is ON. Bright future. Enjoy it!

For both parties involved. I had read a blurb about TK coming back a week or two ago. At the time I never imagined (hoped really) that Mr. Baz would be involved. The paranoid part of my brain was convinced that some secret society of toreadors somewhere were making sure that his future was to be scuppered. ;) 

After all that time together, Honda pulled the rug on ten Kate just like that?  Makes me not want to buy a Honda. 

Had a recent 600RR and 1000RR. The bikes made me not want one either.
(I not so secretly like to dislike them, and periodically have their bikes...must be 20 by now, but don't see any drawing me in the near future).

Superbike? Aprilia
Supersport? Triumph
Scooter? Genuine Buddy
Dirt bikes/Supermoto? Yamaha or KTM
Vintage? None finally, sick of greasy tinkering
Wee cute toy? Grom. Oop, damn.
MotoGP jersey? 2019 Rins or 2018 Zarco/Tech3
WSBK? Huh. Way back to Ben Spies Yamaha to feel the zing. Ready and waiting.