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Rain Stops Qatar MotoGP Test - Last Day Could Be Lost To Rain

The weather has called an early halt to proceedings at the MotoGP test in Qatar. A weather front is passing the peninsula nation, bringing light rain on and off since early afternoon. Though the rain is not heavy, enough water is falling to completely soak the track, and continuing showers have prevented the track from drying out.

The wet track has caused the start of the test to be red flagged. As testing and racing in Qatar happens at night, under the floodlights, any rain on the track makes the circuit impossible to ride. The floodlights create massive problems with reflection, making it impossible to see where the track goes, and making the track unsafe. As riding is impossible if it rains at Qatar, Bridgestone does not bring wet tires to the circuit, as they cannot be used anyway. Any rain in Qatar causes the action to come to a halt, only starting again once the track is fully dry.

With the track still wet as the sun is starting to set, the chances of the Arabian sun helping to burn off any water on the track are slim. That means it could be several hours before it is safe for the riders to venture out, and with the test due to stop at 11pm local time, that would leave a limited amount of track time. Extending the test is an option, but dew starts to form on the track after around 10pm, the track getting ever slicker and more dangerous as the night goes on. With less than two weeks to go to the start of the 2015 MotoGP season, riders will not be keen to take any risks. A Michelin test is scheduled for Tuesday using test riders, where theoretically, the contracted riders could use that time for extra testing. That would not please Michelin, however, as they need the track time to test and prepare for the 2016 season, when they take over as single tire supplier.

The teams all had race simulations on the schedule for today. Losing the last day of testing means that we shall have to wait to see where the bikes really stand until the start of the season.

Circuit Of Wales Says It Has £120 Million Of Conditional Funding In Place

One of the greatest mysteries surrounding the Circuit of Wales is exactly where the funding for the project is due to come from. The ambitious project to build a circuit in the Blaenau Gwent region of South Wales will need some £325 million to complete it entirely, with around £200 million to come from private investors, the rest to come from public funds. Though the Circuit of Wales has had plenty of headlines, there has been little word of any private investors putting any actual money into the project.

That seems set to change. Michael Carrick, Chief Executive of the Heads of the Valleys Development Company, the company behind the Circuit of Wales project, told the BBC that they have already raised £120 million in private investment, leaving £80 million still to find for development to go ahead. The investments so far are conditional on the Circuit of Wales overcoming the planning obstacles which still stand in the way of the track. One of those obstacles is to be addressed tomorrow, as a public inquiry is due to start into the de-registering of common land which is needed for part of the complex. The eight-day inquiry will hear objections to public land being handed to the HOVDC on the edge of an area of outstanding natural beauty, and one which is extremely sensitive to environmental damage.

The exact source of the £120 million in private investment is not entirely clear. Carrick told the BBC only that it came from 'Asian and American financial institutions', without further specifying which institutions are involved. This may be a result of the sensitive nature of such financial deals, but it leaves the project wreathed in the fog of uncertainty. The Circuit of Wales project has suffered long delays, and the HOVDC has remained vague over funding throughout the process. Once the planning obstacles have been cleared, perhaps the veil can be lifted on the project's financiers.

JR Racing WSBK Team Manager: "No One Has Received A Single Cent From The Team Owners"

The JR Racing Team appears to be on the verge of collapse. The team, set up with financial backing from the Dominican Republic, ostensibly to promote a circuit to be built on the Caribbean island, was set to run BMW S1000RR bikes in the World Superbike championship, with Ayrton Badovini and Toni Elias as riders. The team had enlisted the support of Troy Corser, and had strong backing from Alpha Racing in Germany and BMW. However, team manager Gemma Voces Pons today issued a press release stating that they have yet to receive "a single cent" from the team owners, Yoselyn Robinson and Manfredi Lombardi.

The team had long been rumored to be in trouble. There have been reports that the BMW S1000RRs ordered by the team are stuck in a workshop in Munich, the bikes still unpaid for, and Alpha Racing unable to proceed with preparing the machines. The team missed the opening round of World Superbikes at Phillip Island, but had told the riders they expected to race at the second round, at the Chang circuit in Thailand. Yet there is still no sign of the bikes, and the riders appear to have given up hope altogether. In an interview with the Gazzetta dello Sport's WSBK writer Paolo Gozzi, Ayrton Badovini said that he had 'lost hope', saying "as far as I know, for the moment no one has even bought a screw. I haven’t seen a euro and I think the same can be said for Elias, the mechanics and everyone else. At the moment, we haven’t got anything, just contracts that are waste paper."

The press release from team manager Gemma Voces Pons appears to be the nail in the coffin for the project. Pons claims that neither she, nor anyone else in the project has been paid, and that the failure of the team owners to pay the money leaves eighteen people without a job for 2015, and at far too late a stage to find a replacement. Pons says she will personally take legal action against Robinson and Lombardi to obtain monies owed. However, given the disparate geographical nature of the team, and the tendency for racing teams to set up base in countries more famous for their tax laws and legal frameworks than for their racing heritage, that may prove to be a very tough battle indeed.

Below is the statement from Voces Pons:


Gemma Voces Pons (Team Manager JR Racing): statement 9th March 2015

“Up until now, Costantino Tontarelli (Team Coordinator) and I (Team Manager) have not talked for a number of reasons. The team is currently not in a good situation. No one has received a single cent from the team owners - Yoselyn Robinson and Manfredi Lombardi. No one is to blame for this situation except these two people. During this difficult period, Dorna, BMW and Alpha Racing have been very supportive to us (team).

We have been working on this new team project for over a year and feel very disappointed and angry about the whole situation. Not only because it seems that our time has been wasted but also because we are 18 people without jobs and it is not likely we will find something at this late stage now. We are fighting to receive our salaries and BMW, Alpha Racing, Ohlins and many more are also waiting to receive what is owed to them.

We will defend the mechanics and riders best interests in this matter and I will personally take legal action if the money is not paid to us all. Having said that, we are more than ready to start if the owners decide to pay what’s owed.”

 

The Racing Week On Wednesday - News Round Up For The Week Of 4th March

After the burst of activity leading up to last week, things have once again calmed down in the world of international motorcycle racing. Neither MotoGP nor World Superbikes are testing – though BSB are preparing for their season by testing in Spain – and as a consequence, news is thin on the ground. But not completely absent, so here is our weekly round up of what is happening in MotoGP and WSBK. And in this case, further abroad.

Casey Stoner to make a sort of return?

The fact that Casey Stoner spent a few days lapping at Sepang at the request of HRC came as no surprise. Stoner is, after all, a fully paid-up Honda test rider, and has been put to work to help develop the Honda RC213V for this year and next. When HRC issued a press release casually mentioning that Stoner had put in a few laps on the Suzuka 8 Hour CBR1000RR endurance bike, that raised an eyebrow.

The other eyebrow was raised when a blog by Max Temporali on the website of the Italian broadcaster Sport Mediaset stated that Honda were preparing for Stoner to race for them, although nothing official has yet been decided. Several Honda sources were cited, including Repsol Honda team principal Livio Suppo, and Honda Europe bosses Carlo Fiorani and Marco Chini, though all of them merely refused to confirm the news, merely admitting that Stoner was considering the idea, but had not made a decision. Fiorani and Chini said that they were currently looking at riders, with an announcement to be made at the end of March. Michael van der Mark, World Supersport champion and currently racing for the Pata Honda WSBK team, looks certain to be one rider for the Suzuka 8 hour, but there others are still to be decided. When contacted, a Honda spokesperson issued the following statement from Livio Suppo: “Honda is not asking Casey to do the 8 Hours, but of course, if he would like to do it, we would be happy. Nothing planned anyway in this moment.” However, previously this year, Honda sources had intimated to me that Stoner could appear at a couple of special events this year, though those sources refused to be specific when pushed.

If Stoner does decide to race, that will not presage a return to MotoGP for the Australian. In a long and fascinating interview with the On Track Off Road online magazine, Stoner told Adam Wheeler that he had no desire whatsoever to come back to MotoGP. “I have zero 'want' to go back to that championship,” Stoner said, citing the electronics as the source of his objections. The advanced software keeps the wheels in line, software engineers ensuring the optimum balance between slip and grip. “The bikes are not as enjoyable to ride as they used to be, because of the electronics and the things they have on them now,” Stoner said. “I really just want to ride a raw bike again, and I have been enjoying my enduro riding and motocross and getting out there and ripping it for real. Being on real bikes is my thing.”

Nice to see you, to see you …

With no action on track for any of the world championship classes (MotoGP resumes testing on 14th March, Moto2 follows on the 17th, and then the second round of WSBK starts on the 20th), a number of teams have seized the opportunity to hold team presentations for the media. TV studios and halls in Spain, Italy and Japan are fully booked over the next couple of days.

On Wednesday, it was the turn of the Team Sky VR46 squad to launch their 2015 Moto3 effort. The team have kept KTMs, their blue and black color scheme, and Romano Fenati, but there have been many changes in the squad as well. Fenati has a new crew chief in Pietro Caprara, and a new teammate in Andrea Migno. The colors of the bike have stayed the same, but the design has changed a little, reflecting the change to the KTM Moto3 bike. The bike's strength is in acceleration, Fenati explained, but the team still need to work on braking.

Fenati is now fully fit, recovered again after crashing and breaking his collar bone in a supermoto accident over the winter. The Italian acknowledged that this was the year of truth for him, and he was expecting to fight for the title this year. The main competitors he faced would be Efren Vazquez, Danny Kent, and especially Fabio Quartararo. Andrea Migno's goal was a little more modest, aiming to finish in the top ten of the championship this year.

Thursday is a big day for introductions, with Aprilia launching their MotoGP, World Superbike and Superstock teams in Milan, and the Estrella Galicia 0,0 / Marc VDS Racing squad presenting their combined efforts in Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP in Madrid. The contrasts and similarities between the two launches are many and varied, not least because of the relative competitiveness of the various teams and riders.

The Estrella Galicia launch is really the presentation of three separate teams run by two separate entities, with the Monlau squad running the Moto3 entries, in both the World Championship and FIM CEV series, and Marc VDS running the Moto2 and MotoGP teams. The joint squad is confident of fighting for the championship in both Moto3, with Fabio Quartararo, and Moto2, with Tito Rabat. Elsewhere, there is more work to do. Alex Márquez is going through a period of transition, as he adapts to Moto2. Scott Redding is finding it harder than expected to ride the Honda RC213V MotoGP bike, a much more demanding machine to ride than the RCV1000R he raced last season. Progress has been slow so far, but at least it has been steady.

The most intriguing launch is of Aprilia, who will be presenting their MotoGP, World Superbike and Superstock teams in a TV studio in Milan. The Italian factory will be unveiling the color scheme they will be using in MotoGP, which frankly, is a bit of a shame, as the current strong red and black scheme is utterly stunning. They will also be presenting their riders, Alvaro Bautista and Marco Melandri. Bautista faces the challenge of helping to provide input for the new bike expected in 2016 with good cheer, but Melandri is struggling badly with both motivation and the feel for the Bridgestones. At the second Sepang test, Melandri made some headway, finally accepting his role as a tester, rather than a rider chasing a championship, but it has been hard.

The bike to be presented at the launch will not be a surprise, the RS-GP a further evolution of the Aprilia ART machine, though with pneumatic valves and a larger, 81mm bore. At the moment, the biggest challenge the Italian factory faces is getting the chassis right, as so far, the 2015 chassis has not found favor with the riders.

The World Superbike and Superstock teams will also be present, with Jordi Torres and Leon Haslam having both impressed in the Red Devils Aprilia team so far. The RSV4 has adapted better than expected to the 2015 WSBK regulations, with Haslam currently joint leader in the WSBK standings after Phillip Island. Torres, too, has surprised a lot of people, making a fast transition from the Moto2 squad. I will be present in Milan to cover the launch, so expect a more detailed look at the teams at some point over the weekend.

Finally, Suzuki is also set to launch its 2015 MotoGP campaign, with a presentation to be held in Japan. The GSX-RR has been a positive surprise throughout testing, with Aleix Espargaro putting the bike much closer to the front than expected on the basis of tester Randy De Puniet's results. Espargaro and new teammate Maverick Viñales have both praised the handling of the bike, though it is clearly down on power. There is still much work to do for Suzuki, but they are closer than they had any right to expect.

The team also has two very strong riders in Espargaro and Viñales. Aleix Espargaro has grown as a rider on the Aprilia ART, and was very impressive on the Forward Yamaha. The elder of the two Espargaro brothers will lead the development, and will expect to get among the leaders as quickly as possible. Viñales' main task is to adapt to MotoGP, something he has done at a very rapid rate. The Spanish youngster has been impressive from the outset, and great things are expected of him.

Official: Troy Bayliss To Race For Aruba.it Ducati WSBK Team In Thailand

Troy Bayliss is to race again in World Superbikes. The Australian will once again replace the injured Davide Giugliano in the Aruba.it Ducati squad at the Thai round of WSBK at the Chang circuit. Whether Bayliss will also replace Giugliano at Aragon and Assen is yet to be decided.

Official confirmation came as rumors started to emerge this morning, after Bayliss posted a rather coy status update on his Facebook page, stating only "See you soon." Unsurprisingly, that set Social Media ablaze with speculation, with various news sources claiming with varying degrees of confidence that the decision had already been taken. Their eagerness was vindicated earlier, when Ducati finally issued an official press release confirming Bayliss' return.

Having Bayliss replace Giugliano for a second time has benefits for both Bayliss and Ducati. The Australian suffered an engine problem at Phillip Island, eating into Giugliano's engine allocation. However, a lack of clarity in the rules suggest that Bayliss could be granted his own allocation if he competes in three WSBK rounds, leaving Giugliano with a full eight engines to complete the remainder of the season. The situation hinges on the wording of the rule for wild card and one event riders. It is clear that the intention of the rules is for Bayliss to use Giugliano's allocation, but an argument could be made the other way.

The benefit for Bayliss is that he would at last be able to see just how competitive he really can be. The Australian veteran was fast on occasion at Phillip Island, but faded with tire problems in both races. Coming to that event with no time on the bike and little experience on the latest generation of tires, he had a clear disadvantage compared to the remainder of the WSBK field. With one race under his belt, he should be able to do better at Chang than he did at Phillip Island.

The fact that the Thai circuit is new for everyone should also work in Bayliss' favor. With nobody having tested at the track, the playing field is much more level, giving Bayliss a better chance of being competitive. Whether he can be remains to be seen.

Below is the official press release from Ducati.


Troy Bayliss will return to the track for Round 2 of the Superbike World Championship in Thailand, riding the Ducati Panigale R for the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team alongside Chaz Davies

Arezzo/Borgo Panigale (Italy), 4 March 2015: The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team is pleased to announce that three-times world champion Troy Bayliss will return to the track with the Italian team and the Panigale R for Round 2 of the World Superbikes, taking place from 20-22 March at the Chang International Circuit in the Buriram province of Thailand.

Bayliss, who will turn 46 on March 30, already competed alongside Chaz Davies at the opening round of Phillip Island in place of Davide Giugliano, injured during the first day of testing, and will substitute for the Italian rider once again, this time at the Thai track, new not only to the Australian but to all of the Superbike riders.

The Australian rider commented: “I’m really excited to be able to ride the Panigale R again and I thank the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team for the opportunity. It will be great to work with the team again. Compared to the Phillip Island round, organised pretty much at the last minute, this time I’ve had the chance to train and prepare myself properly. I’m really motivated and feeling ready; I can’t wait to get back on track!”

Davide Giugliano continues with his recovery, which requires him to rest for another few weeks before recommencing with a measured training programme. He aims to be back on his Panigale R in time for the fifth championship round of Imola, taking place from 8-10 May.

No decision has yet been taken by the Italian squad with regard to the substitution of Giugliano for the rounds of Aragón (12 April) and Assen (19 April).

The Racing Week On Wednesday (On Friday) - News Round Up For The Week Of 27th February

It has been a busy week for racing, with the World Superbike season opener at Phillip Island followed by the MotoGP test at Sepang, including the extra day of testing on Michelins. There has been a lot of news, but between MotoMatters.com's star WSBK reporter Jared Earle and I, we got most of it covered, with an extra bonus of photos from top Australian shooter Andrew Gosling.

But there have been one or two things we may have missed, so here's our weekly round up of racing news.

Scratching the itch: Young Gun vs Old Master

There were a lot of happy faces at the Australian round of World Superbikes. Troy Bayliss, three-time World Superbike champion and arguably, WSBK's last superstar, made a return to the series, replacing the injured Davide Giugliano on the Aruba.it Ducati Panigale. The replacement was at very short notice, Giugliano having crashed during the test which preceded the opening round and fractured a couple of vertebrae.

Expectations among the fans were high, unrealistically so, with many expecting Bayliss to end up on the podium. They overlooked the fact that Bayliss has not raced a Superbike for five years, and was stepping in to race against riders in the middle of their careers, and coming off a month of preseason testing. In the end, Bayliss acquitted himself extraordinarily well, finishing in 13th in race 1, 16th in race 2. He had run much further up the order early on, but had pitted with tire troubles, perhaps a result of a lack of testing with the latest generation of 17-inch Pirelli tires.

The trouble with scratching an itch is that it often just makes the itch worse. With Giugliano out for 90 days, that leaves the factory Ducati team with at least three, perhaps four more races to find a replacement. Though Bayliss had at first said the Phillip Island appearance would be a one-off, he has been bitten by the bug again. Racing flat track in Australia helps keep his racing habit under control, but it appears that it is merely methadone, not the hardcore heroin of world championship road racing.

So Ducati have to make a choice for a replacement, at least for the upcoming Thai round of WSBK at the Chang circuit. Initially, their options had been official test rider Michele Pirro or Xavi Fores, racing with Ducati in the German IDM Superbike championship. With Pirro set to complete a MotoGP test at Qatar from 14th to 17th of March, that would leave him with a day and a half to get to Thailand, ready for practice on Friday. Fores was looking more and more certain of getting the WSBK ride.

Bayliss throwing his hat into the ring (or so we may deduce from the post he made on social media recently) has complicated the situation. Since then, Spanish fans have started a counter campaign to get Xavi Fores the ride. Using the hashtag #XaviForésWSBK, they have been tweeting their support for the rider.

Who will it be? With Bayliss suffering an engine problem at the opening round, there may be a tactical advantage for the team to allowing Bayliss to have the ride. WSBK's arcane engine rules mean that if he races in two rounds, he uses his own allocation, not Giugliano's, who he is replacing. Two factors suggest it might be Fores, though. The Spaniard is younger, fitter, and had already planned a couple of WSBK wildcards with his IDM team, 3C Ducati Corse. He is the obvious candidate to replace Giugliano at the other rounds the Italian must miss. The second, and perhaps more important one, is that Bayliss would need the blessing of his wife Kim. Kim Bayliss was a major factor in Bayliss' decision to retire, and she would be far from delighted if he were to start racing again. Bayliss is a genuine family man, and if push came to shove, would choose his family over racing.

A decision is expected soon. The fans, meanwhile, are on tenterhooks.

EBR – Extremely Bashed 'Round?

Davide Giugliano is not the only rider injured at Phillip Island. Niccolo Canepa, the Italian rider who has been extremely impressive on the EBR 1190RX, snapped a tendon in his left ankle in a crash in race one. Though no bones were broken in the crash, the tendon is likely to require surgery to repair. Though the injury was severe, Canepa is confident of racing at the Thai round. Should that not be possible, he would at least have three extra weeks in which to recover.

Despite denials, the Melandri saga continues

It has been a tough return to MotoGP for Marco Melandri. The Italian didn't really want to switch to MotoGP, but was left little choice when Aprilia announced they would be winding up their World Superbike squad to focus on MotoGP. Melandri followed them to the premier class, but his reluctance has been on public display ever since.

Melandri has totally failed to gel with the Bridgestone tires. He has no confidence and no faith in them, and has found it hard to push. His struggles have left him dead last in the standings in the two Sepang tests, and a couple of seconds behind his teammate, Alvaro Bautista.

Seeing his predicament, there have been calls from many quarters – most notably, respected World Superbike journalist Paolo Gozzi – for Aprilia to swap Melandri and Jordi Torres, who is racing for the Aprilia-backed Red Devils team in WSBK. The argument runs that such a change would allow Melandri to chase a WSBK title again, and give Torres a chance to help develop the Aprilia RS-GP.

Over the past week, both Aprilia Corse boss Romano Albesiano and Marco Melandri have denied that such a swap is possible. Speaking at Sepang, Albesiano told GPOne.com "we haven't considered a change like that. I am absolutely convinced that Marco has the potential to do well in MotoGP." For his part, Melandri has said he has had to change his attitude, and is thinking more like a tester than a racer. That, for a man with ambition, is a very tough thing to do.

Then, of course, there is Jordi Torres. The Spaniard is delighted with how well he has started the season, and believes he can be competitive in World Superbikes. Far more so than on the Aprilia in MotoGP. A swap would not be an attractive option for Torres.

So Melandri remains in MotoGP. The road will be long and hard.

Hoodlums on Hondas

The oppressive heat of Sepang can cause tempers to fray, riders responding rather more forcefully than they might otherwise. But sometimes, the gesturing is justified, rather than the result of heat-induced irritation.

Such was the case between Scott Redding and Karel Abraham on the final day of the Sepang test. Abraham had been cruising for a tow on the Cardion AB Honda RC213V-RS, and he managed to get in the way of Redding on a number of occasions, rolling off in front the Marc VDS rider when he was on a hot lap. Redding did not take this kindly, and a lot of fist shaking and gesticulating ensued.

It was not the first time Abraham found himself embroiled with other riders at Sepang. The day before, it had been the turn of Cal Crutchlow to vent his ire on the Czech rider, for exactly the same tactics.

Andrew Gosling Shoots WSBK Round 1 - 2015 Phillip Island Race Day Photos


The WSBK season opener produced some epic battles. Haslam, Rea and Davies gave the fans their money's worth


Lorenzo Zanetti's switch to MV Agusta saw him podium at the first attempt


Michael van der Mark. Made his mark on World Superbikes alright


Chaz prepares


Larry Pegram, the old man of World Superbikes


Alex Lowes: fast in testing, fast in practice, but suffered problems on race day


The MV may have dominated WSS, but it still has some way to go in WSBK


Legend


Randy De Puniet's debut in World Superbikes left him battered and bruised


Justice at last for Leon Haslam


Future champion? He certainly got off to a good start


Give 'em what they want


Jules Cluzel is leading a Moto2 charge in World Supersport


Not bad for a new boy. Pere Riba must have been happy with the way things went for his rider


If you'd like to see more of Andrew Gosling's work, head on over to his website http://www.tbgsport.com/, or follow him on Facebook and Twitter. If you'd like to have desktop-sized versions of the fantastic photos featured on the site, you can become a site supporter and take out a subscription. If you'd like a print of one of the shots you see here, then send Andrew an email and he'll be happy to help.

Andrew Gosling Shoots WSBK Round 1 - 2015 Phillip Island Photos From Friday


Bayliss is back


Hopes are high for #65


MV Agusta, stripped naked


The switch to World Supersport has done Gino Rea good


The most photographed motorcycle this weekend


Kyle Smith: definitely a name to watch in WSS


The transition from MotoGP to World Superbikes is not easy, as Randy De Puniet is finding out


Marco Faccani, teammate to Kenan Sofuoglu in WSS. An unenviable position indeed


TB21, ready to roll


Fastest so far. The Suzukis go well at Phillip Island. Alex Lowes goes fast everywhere


The nut between the handlebars?


Show time


Mean & Green: Christian Gamarino is one of many Kawasaki ZX-6R's contesting World Supersport this year


Linkage loveliness


Kenan Sofuoglu, the man to beat in World Supersport


Matteo Baiocco at work


If you'd like to see more of Andrew Gosling's work, head on over to his website http://www.tbgsport.com/, or follow him on Facebook and Twitter. If you'd like to have desktop-sized versions of the fantastic photos featured on the site, you can become a site supporter and take out a subscription. If you'd like a print of one of the shots you see here, then send Andrew an email and he'll be happy to help.

Troy Bayliss To Make Shock Return To World Superbikes, To Replace Injured David Giugliano

Troy Bayliss is to swing his leg over a World Superbike Ducati again. Ducati today shocked fans and media by announcing that the three-time WSBK champion is to take the place of the injured Davide Giugliano, who is out for three months after injuring two vertebrae in a crash during testing. Currently, Bayliss will only replace Giugliano at Phillip Island, with Ducati test rider Michele Pirro pencilled in for the remaining races the Italian is likely to miss.

The decision to replace Giugliano with Bayliss came at the request of the Australian himself. In a press release, Ducati said that Bayliss had asked the factory to be allowed to race as a wildcard at Phillip Island, and when injury forced Giugliano out, Ducati were happy to agree to his request. The factory had not originally planned to replace the injured Italian, as test rider Michele Pirro is due to start the second MotoGP test at Sepang on Monday, taking the Desmosedici GP15 out for its first full laps on a proper race track. That currently has a higher priority than replacing Giugliano, so Bayliss' offer was serendipitous.

The ride at Phillip Island comes as a remarkable return for Bayliss. The 45-year-old Australian officially retired from World Superbikes at the end of the 2008 season, after wrapping up his third World Superbike title on a third different Ducati. His retirement was rumored at the time to not have been entirely voluntary: it was said that his wife Kim had given him an ultimatum, demanding that it was time to stop. After an abortive attempt at racing V8 Supercars, Bayliss turned his attention to flat track and cycling, both of which he practices keenly. Bayliss is still fast on a motorcycle: he won the 2014 edition of the Troy Bayliss Classic, the flat track race which he organizes every winter, and which features some top racing names from Australia and abroad. He also regularly rides a Superbike, having worked as a tester for Ducati until two years ago, and still taking bikes out on track, sometimes offering two-up rides at circuits.

Will Bayliss be competitive? There is no doubting his fitness, and there is no doubting his will to compete, but it has been some time since he raced a Superbike. His results are unlikely to matter to anyone but himself, the Australian remains extraordinarily popular both at home and abroad. On an interesting sidenote, the return of Bayliss will see him having competed on four different generations of Ducati. He started on the 996, which later became the 998, and won a championship on it in 2001. When he returned from his spell in MotoGP, he raced the 999, winning a championship in that in 2006. He then raced the bike's successor, the 1098, winning a third title on that bike in 2008, his last year in the series. Now, he will race the 1199 Panigale R. It is truly a remarkable and unique record.

In a press release issued by the Aruba.it Ducati team, Bayliss was quoted as follows:

“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.” 

2015 Phillip Island WSBK Test Photos By Andrew Gosling


Alex Lowes proved the Suzuki is still fast around Phillip Island


His Chazness


Superquadro. Desmodromico. E bellissimo!


Revelation of the test was surely Jordi Torres. He is getting the hang of WSBK fast


Holding out for a Hero? EBR may have found one in Niccolo Canepa


Juggling fuel. Race bikes want it in a different spot to road bikes


New boy Kyle Smith dragging elbows Moto2 style


An Aussie riding a pom bike? Sam Lambert rides at Phillip Island as a wildcard this weekend


Most serious face in racing? Leon Haslam is a prime candidate


... but he faces stiff competition from Nico Terol


Unmistakeably MV


This man has his sights set on the World Supersport championship this year. I wouldn't bet against him


His teammate was faster, but you can't rule Tom Sykes out


When he was riding, Gino Rea was fast. But an old foot injury didn't help


Form following function


If the fans had their way, all of the bikes would be carbon black


Lorenzo Zanetti had a decent year last year. The MV Agusta offers new chances in 2015


A lot of people have this man at the top of their list of favorites


The best looking tail in racing?

 

 


If you'd like to see more of Andrew Gosling's work, head on over to his website http://www.tbgsport.com/, or follow him on Facebook and Twitter. If you'd like to have desktop-sized versions of the fantastic photos featured on the site, you can become a site supporter and take out a subscription. If you'd like a print of one of the shots you see here, then send Andrew an email and he'll be happy to help.

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