The bike that could spearhead Ducati's return to the World Superbike Championship will be developed by its three-time title winning rider Troy Bayliss, the man himself has revealed.
The 2001, 2006 and 2008 championship winning rider has maintained strong links with the Italian manufacturer since he hung up his helmet at the end of 2008, entertaining rumours of a possible racing comeback as recently as last year.
However, while he would go on to quash that speculation, Bayliss is still connected to Ducati's gathering Superbike project after confirming he has been drafted in to test the bike that could be raced in 2012 or 2013.
Though it isn't clear whether the factory team – which withdrew from WSBK at the end of the 2010 season – will return will a full effort or whether it will delegate responsibility to its customer outfits, Bayliss's role suggests Ducati is throwing substantial resources behind the much anticipated machine.
“It's my job to follow the testing phases of the new model,” Bayliss told Motoblog.it
. “I can't reveal anything, but we are working hard to create a competitive bike that can win the championship again.
“I'll be a simple test rider and won't have any management roles. Riding a bike is what I do best, so this way I'm helping with the new team structure.”
Though Bayliss still isn't fully ruling out a return to racing in the future, he remains focused on his immediate job.
“You don't know how much I'd like it! I think about returning to racing every day, it's my greatest passion and the years that I raced were certainly fantastic It's a recurring thought, but I have my other commitments now and carry on with what I'm doing.”
Asked about his thoughts on the 2011 season, Bayliss identifies Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi as the early favourites, though he isn't discounting Yamaha either.
“It's too early to tell, but from the first race we noticed how determined Carlos Checa is. The team behind him is official and they have a good chance challenging for the title.
“Of course, Max Biaggi, who will try to defend his title with his teeth, but I was surprised by the Yamaha bikes who are really competitive this year and it's a great team with two great talents, Laverty and Melandri will certainly be front runners.”