The famous International Driving Centre at the Varano de' Melegari circuit in the province of Parma, Italy, run by ex-Formula 1 driver Andrea De Adamich, had an exceptional 'pupil' last week as the 2001 World Superbike Champion Troy Bayliss completed a safe driving course.

The Ducati rider was enrolled in a two-day full-immersion in performance driving with the centre's instructors and the results were surprising to say the least.

Giampiero Simoni (Alfa Romeo factory driver in the 1994 / 1995 BTCC British Touring Car Championship) and Sergio Pianezzola (current Group N leader in the Italian Gravel Rally Championship), followed Bayliss's progress throughout and enthused about the Australian's approach behind the wheel.

"Being his teacher was a fantastic experience because Troy is an exceptional person," declared both driving instructors. "We were surprised at how humble this champion was, and at his desire to learn and constantly improve, as well as his competitive spirit and 100% commitment."

Two days of theory and practical driving exercises with the Alfa 156 GTA produced some brilliant results for the Australian, confirming his rapid ability to learn behind the wheel and natural inclination for high-performance driving, as well as the total professionalism of the Alfa Romeo Driving Centre.

"I really learnt a lot about how to drive a sports car," declared Bayiss. "This was my first experience as a pupil and I am pleased with the way it went. I enjoyed myself immensely and even managed to set the best times in the course's two timed exercises: the 'Miniskid' circuit, where the wheels are raised off the ground by a special mechanical 'spider', which means you have no grip at the rear, and the 'GTA Course', a slalom circuit with cones on a wet surface. I learnt a lot about safe driving over the two days, and how to keep control of the situation on the road even when you're behind the wheel of 250 HP cars like the 156 GTA."

"Compared with riding a bike on the track," added Troy, "you brake later in a car and the lines are slightly different. As for the rest it's still really exciting to drive on the track, whether you're on a Ducati or in an Alfa!"

Andrea De Adamich, who was as satisfied as his instructors with Troy's performance, commented: "After seeing him race his Ducati, it was an honour and a 'responsibility' to have him drive one of our course's 156 GTAs. He proved to be a fantastic person, with an extraordinary driving sensitivity and a great desire to learn the differences between two and four wheel high-performance track driving."

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