Troy Bayliss went back to racing at 49 with a new obsession: winning again. Apparently, managing a team, discovering new talents and enjoying the sunshine on the Gold Coast (together with the many millions earned..) was not enough for him. He wanted to turn back time, so he went back on his bike to aim at his opponents like he used to do in his golden age. He decided to go back to where it all started back in 1997, just before he took off thanks to three World Champion titles (2001, 2006 and 2008). Troy Bayliss has been the only rider who ever managed to win both the WSBK and a race in MotoGP (in Valencia as a wild card) in the same season (2006). And he did so without even trying either the Desmosedici or the Bridgestone tires before. He was a true wunderkind. He is one of those unpretentious riders, a little old-style, that all motorbike enthusiasts love. As for Ducati’s fans, he has always been a legend. He made his debut in Philipp Island in February and he almost won, crossing the finish line second for just a few thousandths. At Hidden Valley, near Darwin, on Sunday, he stunned them all (here the reports and final ranking). Troy has started winning again, and nobody will stop him now…(here the pics of that amazing race).
Troy, did you expect to win so soon, after just four rounds?
“Actually, I expected to win much earlier. But if I have to be honest, it took me some time to understand my new Ducati 1299 Final Edition and make it a winning bike. I also had to work a lot with Paul, my new track engineer, to find the right synergy. I understand that when we are on track, adrenaline rises and the stopwatch flows, it’s hard to stand by me. Paul needed some time to figure out how my brain works, and this is not an easy task..”
Now that you won, at the impressing age of 49, what do you think will happen?
“Now I really understand my potential, and I finally came to know myself better. I have found again the Troy I left behind a long time ago. I can tell you what I think every morning: from now on, we’ll be leading every single race.”
What did you think as soon as you crossed the finish line at Hidden Valley?
“Victory is nice, it makes me feel good. I felt really at peace. Then I immediately thought about my son Oli’s words, who kept on telling me: ‘Hey Dad, it’s ten years you don’t win a race, don’t you think it’s time to do it again?’ Yep, he was right. It was quite the time to win again. And I did.
You were aiming at a double victory, what happened during Race 2?
“I was ready for a new battle, as in Race 1, but the gearshift started acting weirdly, so I went out of track a couple of times and I lost a heartbeat every time. I managed to finish 7th, but that’s too bad. We are a small team, the DesmoSport (he owns the team, ndr), and we don’t have a lot of staff. We all need to make extra efforts if we really want to win this Championship.”
Now you are 3rd in the ranking, 48 points from the leader Troy Herfoss, the official rider of Honda Australia. Do you think the title is an actual chance?
“We wasted a few bullets (during the previous round at Bend he fell down, here you can find the video, ndr) but we are still in the race, now more than ever. I won’t give up a meter, and we are ready to fight hard in the next rounds”.
What’s the level of your opponent in the Australian SBK?
“I have five really talented rivals, highly performing: Troy Herfoss, Wayne Maxwell, Josh Waters, Daniel Falzon, and Brian Staring. These guys are great on national circuits, I mean really great sometimes.”
In 2015 you raced four times in the World Championship, and three times you got some points, but never more than the 9th place in the ranking. Why?
“I was in Philipp Island to be a tourist, and they called me out of the blue to substitute for an injured Davide Giugliano. I didn’t train before, so I wasn’t ready. The real Troy was not on track. Last winter I work harder than ever. Now I’m stronger than ever. Now the real Troy is here.”
You retired in 2008, as a World Champion, after winning three finals. If you hadn’t retired you could have won much more…any regret?
“I have a very happy family, it means I made the right decision at the right time. I have three sons: Mitch and Abbey are grownups now, they have their own families and they live by themselves; Oli, the youngest, just started racing. There’s nothing I regret, I like it as it is.”
In 2008 you wife Kim was a fundamental voice in your decision to retire. What does she think about your return?
“I have always been following the racing world, mainly to manage my son Oli and my team, the DesmoSport. I knew that if I hadn’t started racing again myself it would have been hard to support the team’s activity. One day we were sitting on the table and my son Oli said ‘Try asking mum, let’s see what she thinks’. Kim answered ‘why not, but if you decide to go back you can’t stop right after’. I think she was just waiting for this moment, she knew that, sooner or later, it would have come. After all, we have always been a racing family”.
Your wife was at the starting grid with you, at Hidden Valley on Sunday. How did that feel?
“With the usual stress, she got used to it. You have to understand her: his husband is a rider, the youngest son too; the middle one, Mitchell, is an MMA fighter (some kind of boxing, ndr) with a record of 4 wins and 0 lost, and he will soon become a professional fighter. She is always worried about someone in the family. And Kim is not just a wife or a mother like any other, she is the Queen of Australian motorbikes. Our firm, the TBE, manages the main motorbike fairs in Sidney and Melbourne, and recently also the biggest Supercross events.”
In 2019 you will be 50 years old. Will you still be racing?
We are in July, I need to start thinking about what I want to do next season. Ducati will have the Panigale V4 debut, and I’d like to ride it. Moreover, my son Oli will be coming here to race in the CIV (the Italian Championship, ndr), so what about me? I’ll keep up updated…”
On the 21st of July, during the World Ducati Week-End in Misano, you will be riding the V4 against Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso, Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri. Are you trying to win over them too?
I have never used a V4 before, but I always try to give my best, with any Ducati. For now, I think about the party rather than the race, I’ll be extremely happy to see so many Ducati’s people at the same time”.
You return to glory roused a lot of fuss in Italy.
“I’m glad Italians didn’t forget about me”.