MotoOnline.com.au speaks to retired Superbike World Champion Troy Bayliss about his recent test on Ducati’s MotoGP bike at Mugello in Italy.
Imagine this. You’re the reigning world champion who’s decided to call it quits, moving home from Monaco back to Australia and up to the Gold Coast after growing up in Taree.
Life couldn’t really get any better until Ducati Corse calls you up to see if you’d like to test the factory Desmosedici GP9 at Mugello in order to give a bit of extra feedback on the bike that it seems only Casey Stoner can extract its potential.
That’s exactly the life that Australia’s retired world champ Troy Bayliss has been living in recent months, travelling to Europe at the beginning of this month to attend the Monza round of World Superbike before taking part in a three-day private MotoGP test at the historic Mugello circuit.
Bayliss returned to the saddle of a motorcycle for the first time in six months to complete the test alongside regular Ducati tester Vittoriano Guareschi, setting a best time of 1:51.2, which is just over one second slower than Casey Stoner’s fastest time of 1:50.003 in last year’s Mugello GP.
MotoOnline.com.au caught up with the recently-turned 40-year-old as he was doing some DIY around the house, enjoying the life that he has carved out for himself with his success on two wheels.
You’ve just arrived back from Italy where you tested the Ducati Marlboro Desmosedici GP9. How was that experience considering you haven’t been on a bike in so long?
It’s been six months since I had been on the bike so I was a little bit rusty and they didn’t have a big crew there, just test rider Vito Guareschi and myself, so we were pretty limited with the amount of laps that we got and the tyres that we had to use.
What were you actually testing for? Are you a test rider alongside Guareschi for Ducati Corse now?
We ran through a few things, but I was there more for a performance test because Vito is the tester who does all the long hours from the start to make sure it’s reliable and all that, but he’s fast on it too because it’s like his little baby.
You haven’t ridden since you retired from WSBK as the reigning champ last year, so it must have been great to come back on a MotoGP bike. How do you compare it with the Superbike?
Obviously it’s a bit different to the Superbike. There’s only about 10 or 15 kilos different in weight to the Superbike, but the power was so different because it’s got no mid-range and it just revs incredibly hard so they rely on the electronics and everything. But it’s just an incredibly different feel because everything’s carbon and linked together, so it’s just very different to what I’m used to riding.
Were you satisfied with your test, from both a speed and development standpoint?
Casey’s the only one who can ride it fast at the moment so what I was looking at was that I was going to ride it different anyway, so we went with a totally different set-up. In the end I was only a second or so off the record at Mugello, which was good, but it was more to maybe give the other guys a little bit of direction and to see if we could find something that would suit more people.
Last time you rode a MotoGP bike was when you took that memorable victory at Valencia in 2006, which was the last race ever for the 990cc bikes. What’s your opinion if the 800?
It was more like the 2003 and early 2004 bike because they were screamers, and then when I went back in 2006 it was like a big-bang style of engine. Yamaha has gone to that big-bang style now in both MotoGP and Superbike, but Ducati has decided to go back to the screamer system.
You know, there was a time when Ducati had more power than anybody else and it was faster, but now I think it’s quite even with all the bikes. My feeling is that the big-bang, which is more like a twin-cylinder, would suit me more, I know that for sure. All in all, you only use the throttle for a very small percentage at a time around the track.
It must be incredible now that you’re retired to fly over the Europe and attend the Monza WSBK round before spending a few days on a factory Ducati MotoGP bike…
It was good, but I wouldn’t want to let myself go too far because it would be a bit of a workout [laughs]. But yeah, you know, it was nice to get on something good though, a proper race bike, rather than hopping on a normal bike for a ride around a track.
Was there any indication when you will be back on the MotoGP bike or even on the Superbike again?
Yeah, I’ve got another test in July at Mugello on the GP bike, but I’m not really sure about the Superbike what we’ll do there. Maybe something, but it’s not really an issue at the moment.
Okay then Troy, well thanks for your time and we look forward to seeing you back in action again soon.
Thanks a lot, looking forward to it.