It was a big surprise and a great deal of fun to see three-time retired WSB champ Troy Bayliss back on a factory Ducati at the Philip Island world superbike race.
He was a one-off wildcard replacement for team rider David Giugliano, who was unfortunate enough to fracture two vertebrae in an accident during practice. The fractures turned out to be worse than expected, and the Italian is apparently going to miss at least the next three events at Chang (Thailand), Aragon (Spain), and Assen (Netherlands).
Ducati originally stated that either test rider Michele Pirro or European series racer Xavier Forés would replace Giugliano, but Bayliss has been lobbying for the ride – it would seem he’s convinced his wife he should be racing again (apparently she was a main factor in his original retirement). And a cryptic “see you soon” on his Facebook page was soon followed by an announcement today from Ducati that Baylisss would be subbing again in Thailand at the new Chang circuit.
Ducati’s release said, “No decision has yet been taken … with regard to the substitution of Giugliano for the rounds of Aragón (12 April) and Assen (19 April).”
While Bayliss’ final results at Philip Island weren’t spectacular – 13th and 16th – he was running in the top 10 before encountering tire troubles in both races, so it seems that his dirt tracking has kept his skills pretty sharp.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see him run another 4 or 5 events.
Giugliano is going to be a while getting back up to speed…