It's official: Troy Bayliss is the hardest man in motorcycle racing. And here's why
Leading race one at Donington, coming out of Coppice at over 100mph, his Ducati slewed sideways and spat him unceremoniously onto the tarmac.
The next shot, of Troy in the gravel clutching his nuts, left no doubt as to what had broken his fall. Ouch. Then when a kid in the crowd asked for his gloves and Troy began to oblige (ignoring the excrutiating pain from what turned out to be a split testicle) he realised the full extent of his injuries as his mangled
little finger began to come off with the glove it had been in. Double ouch. That evening surgeons removed the remains of Troy's finger. The testicle damage was so severe surgery was needed. "I've finished using it," he joked later.
Ten days later at Valencia, minus half a finger, and with a testicle so sore the team tried to buy him a cricket box before practice (they failed - no one plays cricket in Spain), Troy stuck his Ducati on pole.
With this display of phenomenal grit, bravery and skill in mind, we wondered what, at 39 years old, keeps him going?
"Motivation? It just comes naturally to dig deep. You're always going to face problems and you have to deal with them. When we went to Monza last year the bike was so unstable I had to take the gas off down the straights. We tried a few things but it wasn't until the last session we sorted it. I won both races. You don't expect that at Monza.
The only time I've ever felt like saying 'sod it' was this year at Qatar where we really struggled with a tyre. We even made changes between the races which we rarely do. I thought, 'man, we've got a long year ahead of us'.
Possibly in the first race I could have finished third if I'd put my life on the line, but I didn't and I finished fifth. The second race was even worse and I just figured I should ride safely and get home. Sure enough things came back at Phillip Island. The bike was working much better but I still knew I'd have to ride really well to be up there.
The competition's getting tougher, for sure. I think it's going to be more like Phillip Island every weekend from here, but that motivates me. I went to Donington with a real chip on my shoulder, cos I'm an Aussie and coming to England I want to spoil the English party. I've got a lot of friends in England but when I come here it's death and dishonour (laughs). And then I read this front page (holds up newspaper) 'James Toseland: I'm going to leave this place at the top of the points table'. He doesn't say he's going to win both races. If he finishes second behind me in both races, he's still going to be leading the points. D'you get the picture? Red rag to a bull.
Ducati's competitive advantage has been gone since, I'd say, 2003. 2001 and 2002 we were on a par with Honda and I think we had better tyres than the rest too. I felt I deserved the championship more last year than in 2001 because I had to work so hard for it all year.
I was nearly going to stop racing last year. I was actually going to stop at the end of 2002 because that was the plan: 2000 learn the WSB tracks, 2001 win the championship, 2002 keep riding then retire. Then Ducati offered me the MotoGP job. You're not going to say no to that (laughs).
Cut a long story short, I still love riding the bike and that's it.
Just the other day it struck me. I've signed to ride until 2008 with Ducati but I may ride in 2009, too. If I don't average 12 wins a year I won't take Carl Fogarty's record of 59 wins so I may need 2009. I'll go home in a box before I let him have more wins than me. I'd also like to win the series on three different generations of bike. I won it on the 916 and on the 999. If the 1098 gets homologated it'd be real nice to do it on that too. Maybe I'd even have a stab at Carl's championship tally as well...
When the time comes I'll either turn up on a Sunday or just fuck off to the beach and no one will ever hear from me again. But that time is not yet."
Posted: 18/06/2008 at 16:00
Posted: 18/06/2008 at 16:19
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