Troy Bayliss, who returned to Superbike racing this year aboard a Ducati 1199R, has ended his fairytale comeback—the Australian announced his retirement from racing following the Thai round at the new Buriram circuit.
His qualifying runs in Thailand were a big and positive surprise. He made it to the superpole and finally qualified seventh. After his highly emotional return at Phillip Island, Bayliss had worked out hard to return in better shape, particularly in light of the high temperature and humidity that would make the Thai round so physically demanding.
But the Ducati Panigale 1199 R is not at all like his old 1198. That was the king of low-end torque and power density, and the frame was absolutely friendly, leaving lots of room for recoveries in case of overenthusiastic riding. In Race 1, Bayliss had a good start and was able to progress up to 4th, but then faded back to finish 7th. In Race 2, he finished 11th.
The Panigale is not a friendly mount; ask Carlos Checa and Davide Giugliano. And in reality, Troy was never particularly happy with the bike when he started testing its racing version at the Mugello racetrack back in 2012 while preparing for the 2013 season. Despite the much higher power, the lap times weren’t any better than those he clocked with his faithful 1198. Through the years the bike improved, but its throttle response is still considered peaky by twin-cylinder standards. And the chassis is said to be unforgiving when pushed beyond a given limit.
In qualifying and in races, Bayliss exhibited his aggressive riding style, but that was not enough. He is a champion, he threw himself in the fray because he loves Ducati, and he loves being there. But the results he achieved could never satisfy him, so he announced after the Thai round of the FIM Superbike World Championship that he would retire for good this time, thanking Ducati and the Aruba team for the opportunities he was given.
I think we all should thank Troy Bayliss for having given the sport a great shot of fighting spirit, dedication, sportsmanship, and sheer guts. While Davide Giugliano is entering the final phase of his recovery, Spanish rider Xavier Forès will race the second Panigale 1199R in the Aragon and Assen rounds. Forès, 29, won the 2014 IDM German Superbike Championship on a Ducati 1199 R.