D34G WorldSSP racer on 2023 season, recovery and what's next.
The 2023 season marks Oli Bayliss’ second year in the Supersport World Championship (WorldSSP), with the Australian eager to keep making steps forward. Despite showing solid race pace, the D34G Racing rider’s campaign has unfortunately been heavily impacted by injury and he continues to recover from shoulder surgery. CycleOnline tracked down the talented 20-year-old for a Conversation on the recovery process, the 2023 season and what’s next.
How is the recovery process going for you and how is the healing process tracking along?
It’s going good. We knew when we made the decision to get surgery that it was going to be a long time. Ligaments don’t really heal so quick, especially ones that are basically snapped. We had some… Like my shoulder was really weak after the crash, and we had chunks of ligaments that were stuck in the joint of my shoulder, so that was causing the pain. Plus I was weak and I could barely lift my arm up, so riding a bike wasn’t the ideal situation. So knowing that I would miss some races if I didn’t get surgery, the team, myself, my family, we made the decision to get the surgery so it’s not going to be a problem in the future. So we took the safer option, so it doesn’t become a small problem in the future.
With how that is all tracking along, what is next for you? Obviously, there is one round left in the WorldSSP Championship this year, does that surgery rule you out for the rest of WorldSSP this year?
It’s not certain yet, we knew we were going to miss the rounds that I have missed, and we knew that the last round is going to be touch and go. To be honest, if the race was today, I wouldn’t be able to do it. I haven’t ridden a bike in two and a half months or whatever it is, even just doing day-to-day things, I can only pick up a coffee cup. That’s the heaviest thing I can lift with an arm. I mean if I absolutely had to ride, I think I could with a lot of pain. It’s not really worth it because we have missed all of the rounds already, so there’s no point in us rushing it towards the end of the process. We still don’t know if we are not going to do it, or if we are going to do it. We are still speaking with everyone and just seeing what’s the best option and of course still speaking with the surgeon to see what he thinks about everything.
In terms of looking towards 2024, what is the preference for you? Would it be to compete again in the Supersport World Championship or potentially look at returning to a Superbike?
The plan is definitely to stay in the championship for another year. We were hoping to have a good year this year and then see where it takes us. But you know, not everything goes to plan. It hasn’t changed a lot, it has changed a little bit but I’m hoping to stay in the same championship. Yeah obviously I can’t say anything about a team, but it’s looking good that that is where we are going to be next year.
With this year being your second year in WorldSSP, despite the injury disruptions, what have you been able to draw from having a second year in the series and what do you feel you can take from that to apply to 2024?
The difference from last year to this year is this year I knew most of the tracks. Instead of FP1 and FP2 having to learn the track, we could get straight into and start working on my feeling with the bike instead of just doing laps. Honestly, it showed, we were always in a better position and to be honest most of the races we did this year, we were quite quick and we had basically two races without an injury impacting the round. I mean I felt way better this year, I am really happy with the team and the races where we could do our best, the team was pretty happy. But I still have one problem, and it’s the same as last year, and that’s where I qualify. I really struggled with the one-lap pace, but over a race distance we were fast enough to be in fighting for the top six, just with the race pace that we did. I mean it’s difficult for it to be like that, but I know when I can start riding again then that’s going to be the thing that we are going to work on.
And finally Oli, in missing some of the races this year, does it place an added importance for you to return and potentially compete in ASBK races at the end of the year, or just like get more race time under your belt ahead of next year? Does you missing these races have any impact on your plans in the off-season?
It’s difficult to say. I mean it’s definitely not ideal that I have missed out on all of this race time and races, so other than doing the training that you can, you need to also be in a racing atmosphere, so it kind of simulates the same thing. We are going to see what we can do, that’s all I can say [laughs].