News 29 Mar 2019

Bayliss not ruling out racing return despite Jones replacement

DesmoSport Ducati co-owner to focus on Panigale V4 R development.

Image: Russell Colvin.

Three-time superbike world champion Troy Bayliss isn’t ruling out a return to the 2019 Motul Pirelli Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) grid despite drafting in Mike Jones to replace himself at DesmoSport Ducati.

Co-owner of the factory Ducati squad, Bayliss’ was the outfit’s sole entry this season, however injuries sustained at Phillip Island’s season-opener ultimately forced him to sit out Wakefield Park’s second round last weekend.

Jones, a former member of the team, tested with the operation in the lead-up to Wakefield Park, which led to filling in for Bayliss in a one-off deal.

Out of contention for the crown, Bayliss has relinquished his position aboard the Panigale 1299 Factory Edition in favour of Jones, who currently sits third in the standings, and will instead focus on developing the all-new Panigale V4 R once cleared to recommence riding.

“It’s an interesting position for me to be in right now,” said Bayliss. “I want to win, and those who know me, know that I will do whatever it takes to ensure I can win. As a team owner, that means putting the best person on the bike for the season, and right now that’s Mike.

“I know that I can win races in the ASBK this year, but I don’t believe I can win the title after missing two rounds against such a strong field of racers. That’s not to say you won’t see me line up on the grid again this year, but Mike is our title contender. I’m 100 percent behind him and believe that we have the team and equipment to win.”

After a decade-long retirement, Bayliss stepped back into competitive racing last season at 49 years of age in an effort to earn an ASBK title that has so far eluded him, completing the campaign in third with a round win to his name. The next stop on the ASBK calendar is scheduled for 26-28 April at The Bend Motorsport Park in South Australia.