DAYTONA BEACH, FL – May 19, 2015 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – There is no shortage of opinions on how Troy Bayliss will do when the three-time World Superbike champion makes his AMA Pro Flat Track debut at the Springfield Mile May 24, against the best flat trackers in the world.
Some think Bayliss will cruise to the main, while others think it’s going to be a nice learning experience.
Photo credit: Ducati.net
The question isn’t whether or not Bayliss is talented enough; no one claims he’s not. The question is, what about drafting and throttle control carries over from the pavement to the dirt. People are well aware of Bayliss’ long history on dirt and how he’s spent the majority of his time since retiring in 2008 racing flat track, but he’s racing against the likes of Jared Mees, Bryan Smith, Jake Johnson and Kenny Coolbeth – the best in the world.
In the end, everyone will just have to be in Springfield, Ill., or watching live at FansChoice.tv to see how Bayliss will do on his No. 21I Lloyd Brothers Racing Scrambler-inspired Ducati. But we wanted to ask the three AMA Pro veterans who have actually raced against him in the Troy Bayliss Classic, the exhibition race Bayliss hosts in his native Australia.
“It’s just a matter of time until he gets comfortable on the bike he’s racing until he’s competitive, and we might even see him running at or near the front of the pack before too long,” said Sammy Halbert, National No. 7. “It’s really hard to predict though, it could be a struggle for a while but he’s a determined racer and will make a splash on the flat track scene.”
One thing most people agree on is that Springfield is the perfect place for Bayliss to make his debut. He also plans on running the Sacramento Mile, Indy Mile and Du Quoin Mile before running the second Springfield Mile Sept. 6.
“The Springfield Mile will probably be his and the Ducati’s best track, so I look for him to be really competitive when we go back to Springfield in September for the last Mile race of the season,” said Halbert.
Perfect track, and Bayliss it the perfect athlete to make the jump to AMA Pro Flat Track.
“I think he’s a great candidate to come over and do what we’re doing,” said Henry Wiles, National No. 17. “He definitely qualifies, he’s raced on dirt before.”
That said, the Springfield Mile has its lore for a reason.
“The Springfield Mile, it’s very deceiving,” Wiles said. “We get going around there so smooth-looking. Whenever you see footage of it, it looks slow because it’s such a large track, but we’re going 90 mph around the corners.
“I’m thinking back to the first time I rode a twin on a Mile. I’m thinking what it was like, and I’m thinking of some of the things he might experience. But you’re comparing apples to grapes because he’s already a three-time world champion.”
Most of Bayliss’ experience has come on a 450cc machine, and most of his riding had been done on the smaller, oil tracks in Australia. A different track, bike and surface mean plenty of adjustments.
“He’s gonna have to get used to having no front brake, just getting used to sliding the bike around,” said current Grand National Champion Jared Mees, who won the Troy Bayliss Classic in January. “I know he ran really tight racing before, but he’s gotta get used to running tight racing and no front brake. I’m sure he’s used to the speed, there’s no doubt.”
One thing everyone can agree on though, is there is plenty of excitement about Bayliss and his five-race stint in AMA Pro Flat Track in 2015.
“I think it’s awesome,” Wiles said. “I got to know Troy a little bit the last few times I went over there. He’s a great guy, he’s great for motorcycle racing. He does a lot of stuff over there, and to be able to come in and ride the Ducati – it’s a fast bike, and also a bike I rode – I think he’s going to have a lot of fun.”
“I think it’s really cool he’s got the guts to saddle up and give it a go,” Mees said. “A lot of world-class riders of his stature would probably shy against it because of ego or what not. I think him coming out and doing it is pretty cool.”
It’ll be all eyes on Springfield, and the No. 21I on May 24.
“I’m excited to race with him again,” Halbert said. “It’s probably one of the coolest things to happen to flat track in a long time. I think he’s gonna come in with something to prove and will surprise a lot of people.”