A rider who won the hearts of the Ducatisti and the second Aussie to fly high in WorldSBK, Troy had a less than lucky time in the world championship but it ended with that crazy 2006 Valencia win aboard the Desmosedici GP6, a ‘prize’ for having won his second WorldSBK title.
Today, Troy Bayliss is a Ducati ambassador and co-owner of the DesmoSport team in ASBK, a team that has been clocking up national titles and that, this season, will field Troy's son Oli aboard the Panigale V4R.
The early days and the BSB title
Born in Taree on 30 March 1969, Troy's career was slow to start. He had to start working as a body shop mechanic to make the money to race. In ’92, at the ‘tender’ age of 23, he returned to racing after having abandoned it due to a lack of funds. He entered the Australian 250SP championship with a Kawasaki before moving to the 600 class in ‘93.
From ‘94 to ‘95 he competed in the Aussie 600 championship and then moved to Superbike the following year, riding the factory Kawasaki and finishing third overall. This result earned him a wildcard entry in the ‘97 WorldSBK round in his native Australia, where he scored two fifth-place finishes at 28 years of age.
He also competed in the Australian 250 world championship round with a Suzuki, crossing the line sixth.
Age not on his side, the BSB series opened its doors to him. Troy moved to the UK in ’98 and raced team GSE’s Ducati 996. He finished the season eighth overall, enough to be reconfirmed. The Aussie then dominated the 1999 season, scoring seven wins and fourteen podiums to secure the British title.
AMA Superbike and his first world championship stint
His BSB title was enough for Ducati to hire him in 2000. Before fielding him in WorldSBK, Ducati decided to enter him in the American Superbike series with team Vance & Hines. His adventure began with pole in the prestigious Daytona 200, although he was forced to retire from the race when his engine broke. Meanwhile, in WorldSBK, Ducati had a serious problem, as Fogarty’s injury in Australia had ruled him out of the title race. Tardozzi and Ciabatti made an urgent call and brought Troy from America to Japan. His debut at Sugo was nothing to write home about, a double DNF in fact. And so Troy returned to America. While Luca Cadalora was brought in for the Donington round, Bayliss was back on board for Ducati’s home round of Monza.
The Monza “Monster Brake”
Bayliss’ second Superbike chance came at Monza. Troy didn’t know the track, the bike, the tyres or the Superpole format, but he was nevertheless able to pull out two fourth-place finishes in the races. The highlight of the round was his exceptional braking that took him from fifth to first after the Prima Variante.
That double fourth was enough for Ducati management to confirm Bayliss for the rest of the season. He scored two wins, at Hockenheim and Brands Hatch, as well as seven additional podiums, to close sixth overall with 243 points.
In 2001 he started the year as the Ducati Infostrada team’s main rider alongside Ruben Xaus. Troy had a spectacular season, amassing six wins, fifteen podiums and a first world title. He then dominated the first part of 2002, winning 14 of 18 races. But after the Suzuka 8 Hours, Colin Edwards didn’t put a foot wrong while Bayliss suffered a serious setback, forced to retire in race 2 at Assen. Troy finishes the season as runner-up, with 541 points, 11 points behind eventual winner Edwards.
250, MotoGP and the 2006 Valencia win
Having had a taste of the world championship in 97, Troy returned to MotoGP with Ducati in 2003, alongside Loris Capirossi. He scored three podiums and nine top-ten finishes to close sixth overall, with 128 points.
The 2004 season was very difficult for Bayliss, the Desmosedici GP4 proving unmanagable. The Australian only completed half of the races, scoring just one podium at season finale Valencia. He finished the year in 14th place with 71 points.
In 2005 Ducati opted for Carlos Checa and Troy moved to Sito Pons’ Camel Honda team. His season concluded ahead of time when he fractured his wrist while training. 15th place overall for him that season, with 54 points.
He was back in MotoGP in 2006 for the final Valencia round, a prize for having won the 2006 WorldSBK title with Ducati. This was to be Troy's first and only MotoGP win, the Aussie dominating the race ahead of team-mate Capirossi, on the day Hayden won the title.
The second “stint” in Superbike: the 2006 and 2008 titles and retirement
In 2006 Troy returned to Superbike with Ducati and the 999F06 bike, which had already won in 2003 and 2004 with Hodgson and Toseland but struggled against the Honda and Suzuki four-cylinders in 2005. He had an incredible season, scoring twelve wins, sixteen podiums in all, and securing his second world title, three races ahead of schedule.
2007 was a photocopy of 2005, the 999 having reached the end of its development. Troy gave it his all (even a fingertip) as he tried to stick with the very fast Hondas, Yamahas and Suzukis. Despite the Donington crash, after which he had his finger amputated so as to be able to compete at the next round of Valencia, Troy had a solid season, scoring six wins and thirteen podiums in all. He finished the year fourth with 372 points, 43 points behind champion Toseland.
Over the winter of 2007, Troy announced that 2008 would be his final season. Ducati presented the 1098, the weapon with which Bayliss would attempt to secure a third title. He started the year with five wins across the first four rounds. The year was not without its setbacks, with five zeros in all, but despite this, Troy was soon celebrating his third world title at the penultimate French round, while the Portimao season finale saw him round out the year with a double win.
Bayliss retired from the Superbike championship with three world titles, 52 race wins and 94 podiums in 156 races.
Having hung up his helmet, Troy continued on as a Ducati test rider, taking to the track with new WorldSBK modes and serving as a global Ducati ambassador.
In 2015 the factory Aruba Ducati team called on him to replace injured Davide Giugliano for the SBK rounds in Australia and Thailand. He scored 15 points across the four races, the points scored in race 1 in Australia making him the second oldest rider to have earned Superbike points, at the age of 45, 10 months and 8 days, behind only Frantisek Mrazek who scored points at Mosport in 91 at the age of 55 and 25 days.
After race 2 at Buriram, Troy announced his definitive retirement from WorldSBK, but he did compete in the 2018 ASBK championship.
Translated by Heather Watson
As of 2016, he is active with Ducati in ASBK as the co-owner of team DesmoSport.