Ducati Marlboro Team rider Troy Bayliss knows all about riding for the legendary Italian marque on home tarmac. Over the past three years the hard-riding Australian rode factory Dukes in Italian rounds of the World Superbike championship, receiving the plaudits of the fervently patriotic Ducatisti at Monza, Misano and Imola. And he knows this weekend is going to be just as wild.

"It's good to feel the crowd behind you, and I reckon they'll be making a bit of noise!" grinned Bayliss. "I like Mugello, and the last time we tested there in April we made another step forward with bike set-up. It was a geometry change that made a big difference, now we're just fine tuning to make the bike easier to ride.

"The track has got a good character. It's very up and down, there's some good corners and some good straights too, so it's got a little bit of everything. It's even got a few nice bumps - I like a few bumps on a racetrack - things can get a little bit boring if it's too smooth," added the Aussie. "The start-finish should be fun too - the bike pulls a wheelie over the crest at about 320 kays, which feels nice now, but a few months ago when we were working on basic set-up it could get a bit shaky..."

Bayliss, now riding his first MotoGP season, recently confirmed his loyalty to Ducati, the factory that brought him into world-class racing in 2000.

"This is a great team, very comfortable and very homely for me, which makes racing very pleasurable," he smiled. "I've been riding Ducatis for a few years now, and I can't see myself racing for anyone else. I'm not a young guy, so I can't see me changing teams!"



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