Bayliss - Back at the Top

Bayliss - Back at the Top

Pushing the pointy end in ASBK at 49

Author: Media/Monday, October 22, 2018/Categories: State News

For all its sophistication, a factory superbike is a really tough bit of kit to ride to the limit, far beyond the capabilities of most mortals.
Forces are massive, reaction time infinitesimal and a jedi-like anticipation is critical.
To have ten years away from full-time racing and then return to elite national title level at the age of 49 is a herculean undertaking.
It's one which three-time world champion Troy Bayliss not only accepted, but thrived in. He just finished third in the Australian Superbike Championship - in fact just three points away from second. But it wasn't easy.
Don't know about you, but we're incredibly impressed. So we asked him about it.

Thanks for your time Troy, have you enjoyed your year back in ASBK?
Oh yeah. It's been the best thing for my health and fitness. It's got me back healthy and fit. Not that I'd really let myself go, but when you decide to give something like this a go, you've got to give it a bit of a nudge. Like, I'm 11kgs lighter than I was this time last year.
I got off to a rough start though - my first time out I fractured my hip socket and got my neck run over, which was not real handy! So I was laying in the grass thinking, "far out - I dunno how this is gonna go!"
At the World Supers weekend my pelvis hadn't fully recovered and it was still that sore down there that the doctor said, "if you have a real, proper crash right now in the condition you're in, you could do really bad damage to that area. So that made me nervous.

Having that crash when you were setting out to re-join the fray, did it raise some doubts in your head?
It raises some doubts of course, but I thought about it, and I thought, it wouldn't matter if you 20 or 39 or 49 like me - no-one would have enjoyed the crash I had.
I had four crashes all up, and two of them were big highsides, where you'd normally get hurt in some way. So to be back doing this, you have to be okay with that. Then at least when you just have a nice easy front-end crash you get up going, "that's more like it!" - it was nothing.

You're giving away 15-20 years to the likes of Herfoss and Maxwell, does that mean much in your mind, does it factor on your radar often?
Not really. I've got a lot of experience at winning. When I feel at home on the bike, in myself I still think I can be as fast as anyone. And if I didn't feel that way and believe it and expect that, I wouldn't be able to go fast.
As I've gotten back into the swing of things too, it's good now. I can hop on the bike and I'm up to speed after a few laps. This might sound weird, but after 10 years away, I'm fresh in the mind. I don't feel like I've been running around the world all year and I'm over it. I'm in Australia, and it's where I started and I feel like it's a good thing to do and I'm having fun. And most riders say that, but you go through some tough moments. At Phillip Island I was half a second off the qualifying time and it makes you think, where am I going to find that speed? But then you try a few things and sometimes it doesn't take much to completely turn it around. You're always thinking about it.
There's been a turnaround since Darwin. I think we've solved a few things since Phillip Island.

So it sounds like that answers our last question. You're definitely back in 2019?
I'm definitely coming back. Plus I don't want to miss the new V4R which is coming next year. It'll probably miss the first two races of 2019, but I'd really like to ride it. I rode the 996 in the British Championships, the 998 in the World Championships, then the 999, then the 1098 and I had the wildcard ride on the 1199, and now the 1299, so it's a nice thing. I can't see me outlasting another model. I won't see the end of the next one but it's a nice relationship that I have with Ducati and with these models, and for sure it's one more reason to hang around a little bit longer.

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