From the double fall at his debut in Japan to the three unforgettable victories in the World SBK: Troy Bayliss is the perfect embodiment of the Never Give Up spirit that is an integral part of Ducati’s DNA. The color red, together with the number 21, are the symbols of a unique, almost unrepeatable partnership that has overcome even the challenge of time, as the Australian rider himself tells us at the launch of the new Panigale V2 Bayliss 1st Champion 20th Anniversary.
Troy, it’s been 20 years since your first World SBK Championship? How does it feel like?
Actually it doesn’t feel like it was 20 years ago… I say time flies when you’re having fun! And that’s what happened in all these years. I started racing with Ducati way back in 1998 with a private team and that ended successfully winning the British Superbike Championship. In 2000 I started with the World Championship team and, since then, Ducati has been part of my life. We’ve had many ups and downs along the way but it’s just something that doesn’t seem to end.
If you were to pick one moment from all these years, which one would it be?
Of course you never forget your first world championship, because you realize that’s how you do it, and then you strive to repeat it over and over again. We managed to do that a couple more times and for me it was special. But I had so many great times along the whole journey that it’s difficult to pinpoint only some of them. I guess maybe the greatest memory that I’ll never forget is actually crossing the line in 2008 in Portimao, with a third world championship but also knowing that it was my last ride at world level and the end of my life in Europe.
You won with three different generations of Ducati. What is your favorite one?
996, 999 and 1098 all suited me so well. It didn’t really matter which generation I hopped on, I always felt like I was sitting in my own chair and the bike was built for me.
What do you think of the new Panigale V2 Bayliss 1st Championship 20th Year Anniversary?
I think it reflects on what we’ve done together in the past. My time and my career was on the on the V-twin so seeing the new bike with the V-twin and the trellis frame feels very great. Of course over the years everything progresses. The bikes are becoming faster and they have a lot more electronics on them than what they used to. They are so much nicer and kinder to ride and a safer option to let the guys go faster. The new Panigale V2 Bayliss 1st Championship 20th Year Anniversary is a great little all-round bike that many people are going to enjoy, and I’m looking forward to doing some more laps on it. I also asked if I could possibly be the owner of #21 of the series, because I have a few of this bike’s cousins in the shed as well and I’d like one more.
The number 21 is also something you never gave up on. Where does it come from?
When I was drafted into the world squad, Davide Tardozzi said “Troy, what number do you want?”. Davide was always very blunt, very sharp, we’ve been close for many many years. I said to him “I don’t know, I don’t care”. So he said “Okay, you’ll have 21, that’s what my number was”. And it just grew on me, I thought it was a really cool number. Michael Rinaldi now has the number 21 in the World SBK Championship, which is nice to see, and he’s had a win not too long ago as well, which is even better.
Speaking of winning, what impact did that day at Assen in 2001 have on your career?
It’s certainly highlighted what we could do and certainly made me a player for the following year. It was good for me in my head to win a championship, knowing that I could do it and it left me in a good place knowing I could come back and be one of the fastest guys on the track and guys will be looking at me as the rider to beat.
You became a hero for many Ducatisti, and you still are. Ducati is a very passionate family, what’s your relationship with the Ducati family?
After all these years I’m still a big Ducati fan and I feel very privileged to be part of Ducati. I always come to the World Ducati Week. I think I may have missed one in over 20 years. It’s a very special time and it’s a great place for Ducati to showcase all the riders, the teams and the bikes. Everyone that has Ducati comes along, it’s one of the biggest events that I’ve ever been to and I always have such a great time there. I hope in the near future it can come back, I really want to be there again.
And we really look forward for you to join us. Maybe with your son Oli?
Yes, our youngest boy Oli is now riding in the DesmoSport Ducati team in the Australian Superbike Championship. He’s had his first win aboard the Panigale V4 R. So yeah, it has been a very special year for us guys and we can’t wait to celebrate it with all the Ducati fans around the world.