Is it really seven years since Troy Bayliss won his last WSB title, with a stunning double win at Portimao? It surely is. He’s 45 now – but he’s coming back out of retirement to ride the Aruba.it Panigale at Phillip Island this weekend. The spot’s come up because Davide Giugliano is still injured from a testing crash. And who better for a spin round the Melbourne track?
“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,” Bayliss comments. “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. 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.”
The team has also announced the latest on Giugliano’s condition:
‘Davide Giugliano left the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne yesterday evening (Tuesday in Australia). Unfortunately the final prognosis for the Italian rider, who has two micro-fractures of the L1 and L2 vertebrae, is that he won’t be able to return to racing his Panigale R for a period of 90 days. Davide will fly home to Italy as soon as possible, where he will undergo further checks and begin rehabilitation in order to return to full fitness as soon as possible.’
We took a peek in the archives this morning, and found one of our early Bayliss columns, from back in April 2003.
Troy was just heading into a tough first season in MotoGP on the Ducati Desmosedici. He ended that season in sixth place, with three podiums, but some hard lessons from the uncompromising Duke. Lessons he used in 2006 when he scorched the WSB title, then came back to MotoGP for the season finale at Valencia, where he led from start to finish. Can he do the same this weekend? Who’d bet against him?