Troy Bayliss Returns to World Superbike Championship at Age 45
Don’t scratch your eyes. What you’re reading is actually going to happen. While it’s not the equivalent of Michael Jordan coming out of retirement (again) to play for the Charlotte Hornets, it’s still significant enough to warrant attention.
Three-time World Superbike Champion Troy Bayliss is returning to the racing series for the first time since winning the 2008 title. But before you call this an ill-fated comeback, Bayliss’ return to the WSBK does have a caveat.
He’s only doing it for one race, substituting for Ducati’s Davide Giugliano, who was injured in a crash earlier this week. The injuries he suffered - two fractured lumbar vertebrae - has put him out of commission for as many as racing months and with the season-opening race at Phillip Island in Australia this weekend, Ducati needed someone to fill Giulgliano’s seat for the race. Enter Bayliss who is now scheduled to race the 1199 Panigale R for the team he won three WSBK titles with in the last decade.
Ducati is at least hoping for a repeat scenario of the last time Bayliss filled in for an injured Ducati rider. I wasn’t into motorcycle racing back then, but I have read about his dramatic showing at Valencia during the 2006 MotoGP season when he was asked to take the place of Sete Gibernau. Not only did Bayliss post an impressive run in the race, he actually started from second on the grid and ended up winning the whole thing.
Will lightning strike twice for Bayliss and Ducati? Only time will tell, but Ducati’s probably reassured that it can still call on its old hand to give it a lift when the situation calls for it.
Click past the jump to read about Troy Bayliss’ one-shot return to the World Superbike Championship.
Why it matters
Troy Bayliss is considered one of the best riders to have competed in the World Superbike Championship. His three championships and 52 race wins is bested only by the great Carl Fogarty, who won four WSBK titles and 59 races. You can make an argument, though, that Bayliss’ accomplishments is more impressive considering that he raced for only eight years in the WSBK compared to 10 for Fogarty.
So yeah, his one-time WSBK comeback is a pretty big deal for fans who follow the racing series. At the very least, it could be the shot-in-the-arm Ducati needs to begin the new season on a high note after finishing in the middle of the pack for the past few seasons.
I know Bayliss’ return is temporary, but since becoming a fan of motorcycle racing, I’ve heard from a lot of different people who consider Bayliss as one of the best riders to have competed in the World Superbike Championship.
On that note, I’m excited to see how he does this weekend, and hopefully, until the time Giulgliano makes his return.