Troy Bayliss - Q&A

"Me and Nori used to race so hard and so close but we never had an accident. He spent such a lot of time within a centimetre of my back wheel, but I had great faith in him..."
Bayliss, 2008 WSBK Champion, French WSBK Race 1 2008
Bayliss, 2008 WSBK Champion, French WSBK Race 1 2008
© Gold and Goose
Where are you at the moment?

Troy Bayliss:
I'm just on my home from a karting track where I've been doing some Supermoto.
Are you actually doing more racing now than in your WSBK days?

Troy Bayliss:
Well, I'm riding a bike more, that's for sure. But the reason I retired from WSBK was that it was beginning to feel like a bit of a job and I'd been doing it for so long. Our kids were at that age where it was probably the best idea to come back home anyway. I had a really good career so it was time to move on and I got out of there in one piece which is also pretty important.
Looking at your career, you started pretty late in life. Was that an advantage with regard to the usual problems that Australian riders have because of living so far from home?

Troy Bayliss:
I don't know, looking back on it, it might have been a good thing because I was more mature and grounded but in actual fact, given the choice, I would have preferred it to happen a bit earlier. It wasn't a choice, it was just how it went for me.

It's always difficult for Australian riders because to make a living from racing motorbikes you have to move away from home. When I got that opportunity to ride in BSB I had to take it and move. When I arrived in England I'd never seen anything except for Australia and it was kind of like a working holiday. It was hard at the start but in the end we were away from home for 12 years or so.

I was already married to Kim at the time and had Mitch who was 2 years old and Abbey who was 18 months. My family always traveled with me and we made the decision to move to England and that was it. We spent 3 or 4 years in Coventry right near to John Hackett's workshop which was what the team were using. It was actually a nice little country town between Coventry and Birmingham and we enjoyed being there.
Did it make it easier having your family around you?

Troy Bayliss:
Oh yeah, without a doubt. I had a lot of friends in the UK but it was the support from my family that really kept me going. That support's really all you need.

Kim had a big role in my career and had plenty of say in it. She was always behind me and importantly often helped me to get into the right state of mind to get on and succeed. In WSBK that role was always played by either Kim or Davide Tardozzi and when I was in BSB it was either her or Darrel Healey. We always got on well within the team and that makes a huge amount of difference.

We didn't feel homesick because we were all there together and when we were in BSB we'd only come home for 6 weeks at Christmas and spend the rest of the time in the UK. We'd then come back to the wonderful February English weather to start up again.

I used to pride my self on my training but it's got to be said that it can be difficult on those cold dark mornings and Kim would sometimes have to push me out of the door to go training on the bicycle or whatever. Kim actually supplied a lot of the motivation and got me up in the morning, or maybe she just wanted to get me out of the house! It was pretty tough at times though and I don't think I could do it again.

After all of that intensity being at home here in Oz was pretty hard for the first couple of years but now I couldn't be happier. I'm still involved with Ducati and do some testing and work for them and I'm pretty heavily involved with the Ducati ride experience so I've not cut myself off totally from that world. I still get to travel overseas and it's great because it's officially work but it feels more like a holiday and I get to meet up with all the people I use to work with.

I've actually been formally contracted to Ducati since I left racing and I'm still really enjoying that. I finished on top and finished very happy and you could say that that feeling still lingers between us and those guys are kind of like family to me. There's a big picture outside the factory that they change every year where so many great riders like Carl Fogarty and Casey Stoner have been and I was also on there for a while.
What do you think is easier, retiring when you're at the top or having retirement forced on you by circumstances?

Troy Bayliss:
I think that retiring when you're at the top is absolutely the most difficult. It was very difficult and for the first two years I'd still go testing and would often do my fastest times and that meant that I felt I still had it. During that time I was always talking about a comeback but on reflection it just wasn't the right thing to do.

I still think that I could get on the bike now and win races, that's how I think. That's just part of me. Now I'm very comfortable with where I am but I still often dream that I'm racing. When I'm doing flat track racing with my son or at the Troy Bayliss classic I ride as hard as ever.

I remember that there was a little pressure from fans to make a comeback but we resisted because Ducati, my wife and myself had made that decision together and that remains the best thing to do. I think to a certain extent because I retired when I did it was a bit of a fairytale story. Who can tell what would have happened if I'd come back, they say that you're only as good as your last race and my last race wasn't so bad.

It's like Valentino at the moment. You've got to say that he's in the twilight of his career and even though I think he can still win races, I don't know about a championship. Those young guys are so fearless and race so hard and eventually you lose that fearlessness.
Do you think you've lost that fearlessness?

Troy Bayliss:
Nope, I think I've still got it!
You mentioned your son, can we expect any young Bayliss' or Baylii to come through in racing?

Troy Bayliss:
Yeah there's Ollie. Unfortunately Mitch and Abbey missed out on the chance of riding because we were so caught up in my career overseas but now we're back Ollie's 10 and he's been racing kart for a few years and is now riding bikes. He practices on the roads and has done a lot of flat track and he's the Australian 7 - 10 year old champion. He rides pretty good.

I love to ride with him and when you watch him it's so strange because our styles are so similar. He looks really comfortable on the bike.
Colin Edwards says that one of the highlights of his career was racing you at Imola in 2002, would you reciprocate?

Troy Bayliss:
For me it's the same, Colin won the championship that year but we had an incredible season together, we were always racing at the front. When we came to the last race at Imola we both put everything we had into it and even though he came out on top on the day I could live with coming second that one time given the race we'd had.

If I had to choose another high point it would have to be winning the WSBK championship in 2006 and then 2 weeks later winning the MotoGP race at Valencia. It was a great year and an incredible feeling. I was so happy to go there with Davide Tardozzi and my WSBK crew and win, it's fair to say that we left there happy men. I felt as if we'd kind of made a point.
What came together for you on that day to allow you to win so strongly?

Troy Bayliss:
The bike had progressed since I rode it in 2004 and was very good and I was also on a high from winning the WSBK championship but maybe the most important thing was that I was able to bring 3 key team members with me. I'd actually wanted to bring them with me to MotoGP in the first place but that didn't happen.

When I went back there in 2006 with Davide, Paulo and Ernesto everything clicked and we worked well together. I felt that it should have been like that 2 years previously.

I think that if I'd been able to bring those people with me to MotoGP I might have done better there but even though my years in GP didn't go according to plan it was still a good experience and made me a stronger person for it. For most people it was still a good career but if you're used to winning championships it can be hard to take.
Didn't you say at the time that you felt less comfortable in the MotoGP paddock than in the WSBK one?

Troy Bayliss:
I think that the WSBK paddock kind of felt like home because I'd spent so many years there. I was certainly a happier person there.

You have to acknowledge that MotoGP is the top of motorcycle racing though and everything there just feels more serious, it's not that WSBK isn't serious, but it's just a feeling you get. There's also so much hype around the MotoGP paddock that maybe doesn't need to be there.

If you have a bad race in MotoGP, you can't just hop off the bike and say that, you've got to have meetings, analyse things and have an explanation. Unfortunately I think there was quite a lot of winging and bitching there basically.

For me MotoGP was just less fun though maybe it would have been more fun if I'd been winning more.
Which riders did you admire and enjoy racing against?

Troy Bayliss:
Both of the paddocks are at such a high level and it's got to be said there were lots but if I had to single some out I'd say Colin, Noriyuki, Troy (Corser), James Toseland and Neil Hodgson. When you race against people so much you get comfortable and you kind of know what they're going to do.

Me and Nori used to race so hard and so close but we never had an accident. He spent such a lot of time within a centimetre of my back wheel, but I had great faith in him and we never had a crash together.
How about ones which were more difficult?

Troy Bayliss:
I think I was lucky in that I didn't feel I had any enemies in the paddock but I used to have some pretty heavy races with Max Biaggi. We were big rivals you could say especially in 2008 when we were both on Ducatis but I had the factory ride and you could tell he wanted it. Right from round one we were banging handlebars and I could definitely tell there was an extra bit of motivation there.

Ruben (Xaus) was also a hard racer but I remember when we were in the same team as Ben Bostrum I kind of felt like their dad because they were so young and energetic. I like to think I helped those guys and I certainly learned a lot from them.
Do you think you raced in a golden era of WSBK?

Troy Bayliss:
I think it was close to a golden era. In the years I was there, there was really good competition but I think it's on the way back up again now.

WSBK has certainly had a couple of difficult years but right now it's on it's way to getting back to where it needs to be.
What do you think is helping to improve the show in WSBK?

Troy Bayliss:
Well, one thing is that Ducati are back with a full factory team. WSBK just isn't right without a full factory Ducati effort. It's also great to see so many manufacturers in the series and that means that a lot of different bikes are winning and that's good for the championship. I wouldn't say that WSBK is necessarily in a good state but the racing is certainly good.

The Ducati has had a difficult time of late because of a lack of horsepower. We always have the series swinging between the Japanese 4's and the Ducati twin but I do think that this might be another difficult one for the Duke. I tested the Panigale last year and everything was good but it was definitely down on horsepower and speed and I'm really looking forward to giving this year's model a go to see if there's been any progress. I'm looking forward to getting on a real bike after all the flat track racing I've been doing and it's not just the bike, it's also working with the guys there, it feels just like the old days.

I find it difficult to be objective here though because I've got a lot of Ducati in me.
Which bikes from your career have you kept?

Troy Bayliss:
I've kept all my championship winning bikes and I've also got replica ones that match them. The 3 that I really care about are the 2001, 2006 and 2008 ones and they're up in a special room and they'll be there for life.

I never ride them but we have started them up a couple of times. They're all preserved exactly as they were when they finished the year, it's a pretty special room to me.
Tell us about the Troy Bayliss Classic which you've been doing recently.

Troy Bayliss:
That's right, I've been working hard on it and it was on just a few weeks ago. Me, my wife and a business partner have spent a long time putting that together and the good thing is that it's growing, the last one was incredible. We had nearly 7000 spectators and we're hoping for an even bigger event next year

I actually ended up winning it and that was against some of the top US flat trackers like Sammy Halbert and Henry Whiles and also Masatoshi Ohmori the Japanese sensation. For me to win on my home track felt like winning another world championship.

When I'm racing there I have exactly the same kind of competitive feeling as I did when I was racing in WSBK. Flat track racing is very intense and really gets the adrenaline going, there's a lot more contact than in road racing and you can really get stuck in. It brushes up the intensity of your racing and is great training for the track.
Troy Bayliss winning the Troy Bayliss Classic, was there any fixing going on?

Troy Bayliss:
Yeah, I know it's a bit funny. I actually won my own prize money!
I noticed that top racers like Chris Vermeulen took part, does Casey Stoner ever take part in these kind of events?

Troy Bayliss:
Casey's actually pretty busy at the moment but I was with him last week at the go-kart track and it's possible you'll see his name there in the near future.
When you had you little finger amputated, did you do that for racing or medical reasons?

Troy Bayliss:
Yeah, the little finger's gone but I've got another one on the other hand so that's fine. No it was definitely medical reasons. The finger was pretty much demolished and was hanging by a thread so it had to come off.
Do you still get recognized when you're about?

Troy Bayliss:
It's not like it is overseas. I do but it's not like when I'm in Italy. In Europe I was pretty well known but it's in Italy that I seem to have a really good following. Everything is made very easy for me there, you could even say too easy.
Too easy?

Troy Bayliss:
Yeah, it just seems as if you're treated too good. I just need to be brought back down to earth here in Australia. I'm actually just a normal guy and sometimes feel uncomfortable when I'm stuck on a pedestal.
Thanks Troy.

Troy Bayliss:
No worries.

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