Rossi vs. Bayliss Unlikely

Henny Ray Abrams | January 16, 2009

MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, ITALY, JAN 16: The dream race between Valentino Rossi and Troy Bayliss isn’t likely to come off, according to Ducati Corse CEO Claudio Domenicali. Speaking at Wroom 2009, the combined Ducati and Ferrari team launch in the Italian ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio, Domenicali said he thought Bayliss would remain retired, but would have a continuing role with the Ducati factory. Speculation about the match-up began last month, when Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi said he’d like to race Bayliss. Bayliss responded in kind, but said he’d need a hefty payday to make it happen. Asked if he thought the race would come off, Domenicali said, “I don’t think so. I think for him it was very difficult for him to retire. He would have loved to continue racing. I would respect also his personal situation. For him, he was really struggling and he had tears in his eyes when we had a dealer meeting. It’s really personally difficult. So I think he took a decision, he decided that he is 40-years-old and to dedicate his time for the family. Keeping continuing to ask him and to push him to come back in the arena, in my mind, is not very good. Though Domenicali understood Bayliss’s feeling he didn’t entirely rule out the possibility of the race. “If he asks us, we are available, but I don’t like too much the whole situation,” he said. “Even as a kind of just a motorcycle fan, I would love seeing that. But I think that if you consider all the personal situations that is behind this and having seen a person of 40-years-old on my side, really in a very difficult situation with tears, it hits you. And so it makes you think that there are even different values than motorcycle racing.” Bayliss will have an ongoing role at Ducati, Domenicali said, “For sure yes. He will work for us in testing the new bikes, the race bikes. And so he will be our tester when it comes to performance testing. He will test both Superbike and MotoGP. He will work for us in a kind of PR. So he will be with us at the press launch of the new bikes. It’s a kind of part of the family. So there will many occasions that Troy and Ducati will stay together in the near future.” Domenicali also said that Bayliss would test the MotoGP machine, but not the new carbon fiber framed GP9. “It’s not yet planned, but for sure he will test the GP10, not the GP9. It’s a development test,” Domenicali said.

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.