Troy Bayliss has given a strong hint that he would be immediately competitive on a Superbike once again following an 'extremely impressive' two-day test with Ducati, as speculation mounts that he is plotting a sensational return to competition.
Bayliss rode the 2010 specification Xerox Ducati 1198 during a two-day test at Mugello, the first time he has competitively ridden a Superbike since his Portimao 2008 double victory when he officially began his retirement.
While the test had been planned for some months, quashing rumours he was drafted in recently to help the team regain its form following a tough start to the season, Bayliss did use this as an opportunity to show both his and the bike's speed.
Although weather played its part over the two days, the triple world champion's eventual lap time of 1min 51.9secs was deemed 'extremely impressive for a Superbike'. While World Superbikes don't compete at Mugello, Bayliss' time does compare favourably with that of Jorge Lorenzo's MotoGP pole-winning lap in 2009, just three seconds adrift.
“The weather wasn't on our side but we still got a lot of work done. Actually I think riding first in the rain was a good way to work up and get back into it. The track finally came good today and we got about two and a half hours in the dry which was good.
“I really enjoyed myself and hope the feedback I have been giving the guys is useful. Having Ernie [Marinelli] and Alessandra there helped of course, it felt just like the old days.
Joking that he was 'worried' he had forgotten how to ride, Bayliss' test comes amidst recent claims that he is seriously considering a comeback
In an interview Superbike Planet
, Bayliss admitted he thinks he chose to retire too soon, adding he is now beginning to miss racing. Furthermore, he said he would only return riding a Ducati, placing pressure on Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio, who have not lived up to pre-season expectations so far this year.
“I was a little worried that I'd have forgotten how to ride after the year and a half break, but it was easy and to be honest it felt like I'd never been away!”
Bayliss was a 52-time winner over 152 races in World Superbikes, while he is also one of a handful of riders to take victories at WSBK and MotoGP level.