News 22 Feb 2018

Comeback beckons for DesmoSport Ducati's Bayliss

DesmoSport Ducati press release:

DesmoSport Ducati’s Troy Bayliss will make his anticipated comeback to the Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) this weekend at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in Victoria, a decade after capturing his third world championship and announcing his retirement from racing.

Bayliss formed the factory DesmoSport Ducati team with co-owner and team manager Ben Henry ahead of the 2016 season, but will return to the race-track himself for a full season of hard-fought ASBK competition aboard the 1299 Panigale R Final Edition.

“There’s a lot of excitement for this weekend, which is a lot different to the last time I raced as a replacement at Ducati in WorldSBK during 2015,” Bayliss said. “This time I’m coming in prepared and it’s over the course of a full season in the ASBK. We’re here now at Phillip Island for the first round and it’s going to be interesting.

“You could say this is our first real practice, because I haven’t done a lot on the bike, but I’m feeling good and the DesmoSport Ducati team’s been great. I’m looking forward to getting on-track throughout the weekend – especially in front of some old friends and bosses! – and I’ve had a nice reception, so the aim is to be competitive and see where we end up from there.”

Henry, who is himself a former national-level racer, will lead the DesmoSport Ducati program once again as co-owner with Bayliss in 2018, also joined by renowned crew chief Paul Free this season. It’s a recipe that will provide the Queensland-based organisation its best chance of success since being launched a couple of seasons ago.

“The test we had here a few weeks ago was a positive one,” Henry recalled. “There were no major surprises for me and I believe we did pretty good. We have tested since then at Morgan Park and everything went well and is moving forward. Most importantly, Troy is happy and we’ll see what happens come the weekend and see where we end up.

“If we can finish in the top five, that would be a really good way to start the year or if we can leave this weekend with a podium finish, I would be ecstatically happy. I don’t expect to win, because the field is so tough and it would be a big call to win here at the moment. It would be the dream, but currently, if we can score a podium finish, we would be over the moon.”

After posting the 10th-fastest time in official testing in January, Bayliss immediately improved in this afternoon’s opening session by going P2 on the time-sheets with a 1m33.410s – half a second quicker than he posted at the test.

The 2018 ASBK begins between 22-25 February at Phillip Island, alongside the opening round of the Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) in which Bayliss was crowned champion of in 2001, 2006 and 2008.

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