Having ended his sparkling riding career on a high with his third World Superbike Championship crown in eight years, Troy Bayliss is adamant that he is not missing the adrenaline rush of competition – but that does not necessarily mean he will not be back one day.
Bayliss clinched the laurels with a rostrum finish in the penultimate meeting of the campaign at Magny-Cours in early October – one of 19 podiums from 28 outings in 2008 – and he went on to win the last three races of his long and hugely successful WSBK career, one that has yielded no fewer than 52 victories from 152 starts, or more than one in three.
“It was a great year and a great way to finish my career off,” the Ducati star acknowledged, speaking exclusively to Crash.net Radio
. “To finish on top like this is very special and I'm satisfied.
“With three world championships, the sport has been kind to me, and I've managed to like I say finish on top and also come out in one piece. It's quite a nice way to go out – not a lot of people get to do it like this.”
That much is true, and as he admits that 'in the middle of packing up there's a lot of organising to do after being away from Australia for ten years', Bayliss can look forward to Christmas in the Maldives before 'starting life afresh in early January'.
There has been talk, of late, of a match-up with the record-breaking Valentino Rossi at Losail in Qatar in April [see separate story – click here
], after the Aussie surprisingly beat the six-time MotoGP Champion to the prestigious Casca d'Oro
Moto Sprint Rider of the Year award, an accolade normally reserved for Italians. Whilst admitting that a return is unlikely, at just 39 Bayliss is clearly adhering to a never-say-never approach for the time being.
“Who knows?” he mused. “We'll see how this year goes. After a lot of years of racing we'll move back to Oz, and I'm sure I'm going to settle in okay. The team have already had their first test in Kyalami in South Africa and I didn't seem to miss that so much, so I think I'm going to be okay with it, and I'd like to finish like this.”
Should he not come back, Bayliss agreed that there is nonetheless plenty of talent on the 2009 WSBK starting grid to compensate for his absence, from his replacement Noriyuki Haga to exciting young guns such as Tom Sykes, Jonny Rea and Ben Spies and, of course, the return of Aprilia and arrival of BMW in the series.
“Nori has been a big rival over the years and he's very strong,” the New South Wales native mused, “so I can see him doing very well. Even now though, with Aprilia coming back and BMW coming in, the championship is getting stronger and stronger, so I'm really looking forward to watching it next year and seeing lots of good racing.