News 13 May 2010

WSBK: Bayliss impresses during Ducati test at Mugello

Bayliss in action at Mugello this week. Is a return to racing on the cards?

Bayliss in action at Mugello this week. Is a return to racing on the cards?

Three-time Superbike World Champion Troy Bayliss was back on track at Mugello yesterday and today, riding the Ducati 1198 development bike for the Ducati Xerox team in his first Superbike ride since his last race at Portimao in October 2008, after which he announced his official retirement from the sport.

The two-day test session, scheduled some months ago as part of Ducati’s 2010 testing schedule, was conditioned by heavy rain on Tuesday.

Bayliss, though riding in full wet conditions, immediately got back into the swing of things and registered a best time of 2:05 during the morning. Although the rain let up in the early afternoon, the track remained wet and slippery, so there was no opportunity for the Australian rider to improve his time.

Come Wednesday morning the track was still damp but the work continued regardless and by lunch time the asphalt had dried out.

The team worked on the development of a new software for the gear shifter, with very positive results, meaning that it may be used in this Sunday’s race. The team also worked to refine the set-up of the 1198 and found an efficient solution that may also be implemented this weekend in Kyalami.

By the end of the session, which concluded in the early afternoon, Troy had made more than 60 laps, registering a best time of 1:51.9, an extremely impressive time for a Superbike at Mugello.

“The weather wasn’t on our side but we still got a lot of work done,” Bayliss commented. “Actually I think riding first in the rain was a good way to work up and get back into it. The track finally came good today and we got about two and a half hours in the dry which was good.

“I really enjoyed myself and hope the feedback I have been giving the guys is useful. Having Ernie and Alessandra there helped of course, it felt just like the old days. I was a little worried that I’d have forgotten how to ride after the year and a half break, but it was easy and to be honest it felt like I’d never been away!”

The test team, as well as Ernesto Marinelli who returned to the role of track engineer for the Australian during these tests, declared the sessions a success, having collated valuable data and feedback from Troy over the two days.

Bayliss will next test for the factory team during World Ducati Week, taking place at the Misano World Circuit on 10-13 June alongside factory riders Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio.

Check out our Racing Insider #19 for more on a possible return to racing for the Aussie legend.