Newly crowned World Superbike champion Troy Bayliss took his first, and last, MotoGP victory with a fairytale performance in Sunday's Valencian Grand Prix.

Bayliss was drafted back into the factory Ducati team, from which he was sacked at the end of 2004, for a one-off ride to replace the injured Sete Gibernau and, with his Ducati World Superbike commitments complete, Troy jumped at the chance to play a part in the final race of the 990cc era.

Despite having never ridden a Desmosedici with Bridgestone tyres, the Australian signalled his intentions by out-qualifying triple 2006 race-winning team-mate Loris Capirossi for second on the grid - which he then promptly converted into an early lead by blasting past pole sitter Valentino Rossi within seconds of the start.

Thereafter, the 37-year-old was never headed, holding off first title contender Nicky Hayden and then team-mate Capirossi to take the biggest race victory of his career by 1.3secs and join an elite list of riders to have stood on the top step of the podium in both WSBK and MotoGP.

It also provided the perfect conclusion to a GP career which ended under a cloud at Camel Honda in 2005, when a tough season was terminated early by a serious wrist injury - prompting 'Baylisstic' to switch back to World Superbikes for 2006. Bayliss has already signed to stay in WSBK for the next two years, after which he is expected to retire, and as such he doesn't expect to race a MotoGP machine ever again.

"Honestly, it's been a fairytale weekend, I'm still pinching myself," admitted Bayliss. "I've had a great year, winning the World Superbike championship was a good start! Then just when I was kicking back I got a phone call asking if I was interested in doing this ride. It was something I couldn't knock back because I started the Desmosedici project with Loris at the end of 2002 and had some great times in 2003 and 2004, so to be able to come back and finish off the story at the last 990 race was incredible. I brought a few guys with me- Paolo Ciabatti, Davide Tardozzi and Ernesto Marinelli - and together with my old squad from 2004 we took it step by step and really enjoyed the weekend. Thanks to everybody because this will be my last ride in MotoGP, I've had some great times but I'm really comfortable where I am and this is probably best left to the young guys. To take a win is incredible - I've showed I can still ride around in circles pretty fast!"

Meanwhile, Capirossi's second place gave Ducati its first ever MotoGP one-two and also handed the Italian third place in the final 2006 championship standings - by just one point over Marco Melandri.

"This has been an incredible season, one of the best, with many different race winners and a lot of nice fighting," reflected Loris, who revealed at Valencia that he is to become a father. "This weekend started really well, Friday and Saturday were very good and today was pretty good. My start wasn't so great, some guys overtook me. Anyway, I got past them and tried to follow Troy, but he rode really, really well today.

"My pit board told me that second was good enough for third in the championship but it would have been difficult to beat him. I am really happy with third overall and we are only 23 points behind the champion. I have had some bad moments this season but all year my team did a really great job, so my thanks to them because my bikes were always so good and I never made any mistakes.

"Now we are ready to put all our focus into next year. We start testing the 800 again in a few days and we know the bike is already not so bad. We also believe a lot in Bridgestone's power, sometimes the tyres weren't perfect but sometime they were really good. Congratulations to Troy. When I saw how fast he was on Friday I said 'wow, this is a good talent, a good guy!'" admitted Capirossi.

"This day will go down in Ducati's history. This is the first time we have had a one-two finish in MotoGP, the first time we have won the first and last races of the season and our best-ever championship finish," declared Federico Minoli, president and CEO of Ducati. "It's a great end to the year, a good omen for 2007, great for team morale and very important for our technical partners Bridgestone and Shell Advance and all our sponsors."

During its four seasons in MotoGP the Ducati Marlboro Team has also scored 27 podiums, nine pole positions and eight fastest laps. Next year MotoGP switches to 800cc engines, when Casey Stoner will ride alongside Capirossi.


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