AMA Pro Flat Track recently announced that three-time Superbike World Champion Troy Bayliss would be lining up for all five of the mile races this season, beginning with the Springfield Mile on May 24. This is exciting news for the sport. Bayliss has proved time and again he is a winner on pavement. Having won his own invitational race and other national-level events in Australia, he has also demonstrated pro-level skills in the dirt.
Bayliss won all of his SBK titles, a British Superbike title, and a MotoGP race on Ducatis. So it was no surprise to learn that the motorcycle he will be campaigning on the miles is powered by the Italian brand to which he has been faithful his whole career.
Bayliss will be riding for Lloyd Brothers Motorsports, one of the premier teams in the flat-track paddock. Last season, the Atlanta-based team finished third overall with rider Jake Johnson. During the past five seasons, they have also fielded bikes for Joe Kopp, Brad Baker, and Henry Wiles.
Powered by an air-cooled Hypermotard-based 1100cc V-twin, the motorcycle has made steady progress since the Lloyd Brothers began racing it in 2010. The purpose-built frame, called a VMC, is built in Cleveland. Ready to race, the motorcycle weighs around 330 pounds, which is 20 over the class minimum.
“Many people have contributed since we started to get the motorcycle where it is today,” David Lloyd said. “David Gamble early on and, more recently, Brent Armbruster, all of whom supplied technology, parts, and fabrication.”
I rode this motorcycle last fall after the Springfield Mile II. The bike handled well, and I felt comfortable on it during my few laps. One thing is for certain: That big V-twin certainly doesn’t lack horsepower.
The team will be testing with Bayliss and his new teammate, Johnny Lewis, the week before Springfield. Lewis has proven to be a strong contender in the series and will provide valuable insight to Bayliss as the 46-year-old Australian learns the GNC1 class ropes, so to speak.
Although Bayliss has been using the number 21 for most of his career, he won’t be able to use it this season. In AMA Pro Flat Track, you have to qualify for a Grand National main event to earn a national number, or a number without a letter next to it. Bayliss will therefore use the number 21i. The letter represents the region of the US (or the world) where you live. The “i” stands for International.
Ducati’s new Scrambler has been making a big splash since it was introduced last year as a 2015 model. Ducati North America will be marketing the yellow and white “Icon” paint scheme of the new Scrambler on the Lloyd Brothers motorcycles that Bayliss and Lewis will be campaigning. Perhaps we will even see one of the 803cc Scramblers line up for an AMA Pro Flat Track national in the near future.
What is a realistic performance goal for Bayliss this season? As a rider who will be competing against Bayliss, I’m not sure. He is a phenomenal racer with a competitive spirit, but flat-tracking a twin-cylinder motorcycle at this level is something that takes a lot of experience and patience.
I don’t expect Bayliss to set the world on fire right out of the gate, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he did. I know he will be competitive. More importantly, he will create a buzz that the flat-track world hasn’t seen in quite some time, and he’ll have a big smile on his face every time he comes off the track.
The real winners, however, will be the fans. Enjoy!