Former champion Troy Bayliss is to make a shock return to the World Superbike Championship at Phillip Island this weekend after being called up to replace the injured Davide Giugliano at Ducati.

The Australian retired from the sport after picking up his third WSBK title in 2008 and has not competed competitively on track since, despite numerous rumours suggesting he would consider a handful of wild-card rides.

However, seven years later, Bayliss will make a sensational return to the Superbike series on home soil at Phillip Island after being picked to replace Giugliano on the Panigale R, the Italian having fractured vertebrae in a crash during pre-season testing.

Ducati says it has originally planned to just focus on one entry for Chaz Davies but Bayliss made a request to race as a way of celebrating Phillip Island's 25th anniversary of hosting World Superbike. Indeed, he says it was an opportunity that was too good to pass up.

"I want to start by saying that I really feel for Davide and that it's a real shame for his season to be starting in this way. The desire to be able to return to the track and see the home crowd and the Ducatisti has always been strong, ever since I last raced and then also Phillip Island, one of my favourite tracks, is celebrating its 25th anniversary of World Superbikes.

"This gave me the idea to compete as a wildcard and work with the Ducati Superbike technicians once again. I know it's going to be a very difficult weekend, also because it's a while since I've ridden the Superbike but I do know the track well and so hope to get back into it after a few laps. I'll try to enjoy myself and will of course be doing my best to score a good result and put on a good show for the public."

Though this will be his first World Superbike race since Portimao in 2008, Bayliss - champion in 2001, 2006 and 2008 - was part of the development team for the World Superbike Panigale R, while his record at Phillip Island has seen him score six of his career 52 race wins there.



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