I first met Troy Bayliss during a pre-season BSB press conference in 1998. I remember a look of determination in his eyes but he also seemed to be an all round decent bloke. The next time I saw him was at the first race of the year at Brands Hatch when he barged past me at Paddock Hill before getting completely sideways but somehow managing to stay on.
Since that day I’ve admired his ‘my way or the highway’ attitude to racing and no one can argue that it has served him well over the past eleven years. It was also good to see that nothing changed as he passed me yet again round the big balls final right-hander at Portimao. He had both wheels on the paint, leant over and his 1198S was squirming all over the place. It was Bayliss doing what he does best and the moment will live with me forever.
VISORDOWN: You had the perfect ending to your career here at Portimao winning both WSB races. Was that because you were on form, the bike was brilliant or you got on with the new circuit?
Troy Bayliss: All three. But the strange thing was a mistake was made on the Friday and we were running the bike 8mm shorter than it has been all year. But because of the lack of grip on the new circuit and changing weather we didn’t pick up on it. I could tell something wasn’t quite right but we didn’t work it out until after the morning warm up on Sunday. We took a gamble not to change it back and it turned out to be the very best Ducati I have ever ridden. It was awesome!
VISORDOWN: Has it sunk in yet that you are not going racing any more?
Troy Bayliss: Probably not as I’m carrying on with all the things I normally do this time of the year. I’m doing all the PR stuff after winning the world championship, this 1198 launch and I’m training as normal. It definitely feels a bit quieter but I suppose it will only be when I see Haga on my bike in testing that I will realise it is all over.
VISORDOWN: What is your short-term plan?
Troy Bayliss: Holiday in the Maldives, winter in Australia then I’ll be back for the Rome show in February. After that I have four or five jobs with Ducati and Pirelli during the year that don’t really involve riding but I’ve been told if I feel the need to ride they’ll find me a bike!
VISORDOWN: And finally, the 1198. Do you turn on the traction control and just nail it everywhere?
Troy Bayliss: Nah. It isn’t too bad on setting 2 but for me it is a lot more fun to feel the bike moving around underneath me. It might be an advantage on wet roads or on track days but I reckon the quickest way round a track is with it turned right down and using all the power. Out of all the superbikes, being a twin the Ducati has probably got the best traction so it actually needs the least help.