The hardest thing in the world for a professional sports star is to retire. When the thrill and drive of competing falls away, sportsmen and women in every discipline tend to fall into a black hole, and spend a long time thrashing around trying to find new meaning in their lives.
Former World Superbike star Troy Bayliss seemed to have his retirement already planned out. His future, he had decided, would lie in Australia's extremely popular V8 Supercars series, and he would channel all of his considerable talent and drive into that sport, and forget all about motorcycle racing.
But according to leading Italian magazine MotoSprint, Bayliss just can't forget about two wheels. MotoSprint is reporting that Bayliss told them at Imola that he wanted to come back to World Superbikes. His outings in V8 Supercars had been a disappointment to him, he told MotoSprint: "The car and the team are good for twentieth place, no more."
And so he had set his mind to World Superbikes again. "I want to race in Superbikes again," he told MotoSprint. "I'll be looking around here at Imola. It's a shame that Ducati have already signed two riders for 2010, I feel that I could have done well next season."
Ducati team boss Davide Tardozzi confirmed that Bayliss had approached him about racing. "Troy asked me if he could race when he landed, last Tuesday. But how could we satisfy his request? We don't have the resources for three riders," Motosprint quotes Tardozzi as saying.
With both Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio back at Ducati for next year, Bayliss is reportedly looking around for other options. According to MotoSprint, Aprilia boss Giampiero Sacchi was the first to prick up his ears upon hearing the news that Bayliss might be available, and the Australian could potentially find a seat alongside that other veteran, Max Biaggi next year. There is even speculation that Bayliss could fill in for the injured Shinya Nakano for the rest of the season, but his contract as a representative of Ducati would get in the way of this. Just how great an obstacle this would pose remains to be seen.
This story seems like it's too good to be true, and here at MotoMatters.com, we are having a hard time believing it. But the spectacle of Evander Holyfield stepping into the boxing ring at the ripe old age of 46 makes the story of Bayliss wanting to make a return all too credible.