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).