Former three-time World Superbike Champion, Troy Bayliss is set to make a sensational return to motorcycle road racing this coming weekend in his home round at Phillip Island, replacing Ducati’s Davide Giugliano who suffered small fractures to two of his vertebrae in a crash suffered on Monday at the Australian circuit.
|Bayliss retired from WSBK in 2008
Bayliss was set to make the journey from his home on the Gold Coast to make an guest appearance at the opening round of the 2015 WSBK season regardless, participating in his very own Scrambling event held alongside the opening World Championship meeting. But following Giugliano’s heavy crash on the second day of the two day pre-season test, it’s been confirmed that the Italian will be out of action for the next 90 days to recover.
The Aruba.it Racing Ducati team have said they had not anticipated bringing in a replacement, but decided to accept the 45-year-old Veteran’s request to ride on the 25th anniversary weekend of Phillip Island’s first appearance on the World Superbike calendar.
Bayliss has not raced a Superbike since his retirement from the sport in 2008; however, a thorough Dirt Track racing, Superbike ‘experience’, Scrambling, Cycling and Superbike development schedule has kept the Ducati icon in phenomenal shape. Bayliss was crowned the 2014 Australian Dirt Track champion and was a key component in the development of the Panigale concept, spending hours upon hours tearing up the asphalt at Mugello on practically the very machine that he will be wildcarding this weekend.
While acknowledging the enormity of the challenge ahead, given that he hasn’t ridden a full-factory Ducati Superbike since his last test in May 2014, Bayliss admits that it was an opportunity too good to miss: “I want to start by saying that I really feel for Davide and that it’s a real shame for his season to be starting in this way. The desire to be able to return to the track and see the home crowd and the Ducatisti has always been strong, ever since I last raced and then also Phillip Island, one of my favourite tracks, is celebrating its 25th anniversary of World Superbikes. This gave me the idea to compete as a wildcard and work with the Ducati Superbike technicians once again. I know it’s going to be a very difficult weekend, also because it’s a while since I’ve ridden the Superbike but I do know the track well and so hope to get back into it after a few laps. I’ll try to enjoy myself and will of course be doing my best to score a good result and put on a good show for the public.”
Giugliano’s injuries means he will miss at least the first 3 rounds of the 2015 season, seeing him most likely to return at Assen in late April, or possibly his home round at Imola in early May: “My aim now is to do all I can to recover as quickly as possible. I will return to Italy as soon as possible to start my rehabilitation. I’m proud to know that it will be Troy to substitute for me this weekend. He’s a great champion and I’ve always admired him. I hope he gets on well with the set-up that my team and I have worked on in recent months.”