The 2009 World Superbike Championship could begin with a bang if plans for an appearance by MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi and a return for retired WSBK Champion Troy Bayliss come to fruition.
According to a number of reports surfacing in Europe, the second round of the season at Losail, Qatar could play host to a remarkable race in which Rossi would ride a WSBK-spec Yamaha R1, while Bayliss would assume his place at Ducati Xerox for one round.
The match up is thought to have been born out of Rossi's claims that WSBK provides more enjoyable racing than MotoGP, something that is set to be reinforced in 2009 by the fact that 31 riders are already confirmed to the Superbike grid, compared to 19 for MotoGP.
According to Spanish publication Solo Moto
, it also comes after Bayliss was the surprise winner of the Moto Sprint Rider of the Year award, an accolade normally reserved for Italian riders like Rossi.
Apparently frustrated to have been beaten by Bayliss, Rossi has been motivated to challenge the Aussie rider to a historic duel and reclaim his superiority.
What isn't clear is whether Rossi and Bayliss will go head-to-head or whether they will assume wild-card rides with the remainder of the WSBK field.
There has been no confirmation from either rider or team.