Bayliss relishing chance to challenge world’s best

Troy Bayliss has quickly adapted to the Aruba Racing Ducati

Troy Bayliss has quickly adapted to the Aruba Racing Ducati

Troy Bayliss says he is throughly enjoying his return to the World Superbike Championship despite an eventful day at Phillip Island.

The former three-time world champion stunned the motorcycle racing fraternity this week with news of his World Superbike Championship return as a replacement for injured Racing Ducati rider Davide Giugliano.

However, the 45-year-old, who retired from the sport in 2008, has quickly adapted to the modern machinery with the Australian qualifying 13th out of 24 runners for Sunday’s two races, helped by Leandro Mercado’s late disqualification.

Bayliss has logged less than 50 laps at the circuit shaving two seconds from his best time set in Friday practice.

The qualifying result came despite a nasty crash during the fourth free practice session at the 4.4km Victorian circuit, which has played host to six world superbike race wins for Bayliss.

Although more than a second adrift of the front runners, Bayliss, who won world titles in 2001, 2006 and 2008, admits he is enjoying his unexpected return to the World Superbike Championship.

“I’m having a great time out there,” said Bayliss,

“I am happy where I am at. I haven’t used a qualifying tyre in a while, and I’m sure if I had put in another one (lap) I would have gone faster again.

“It would have been nice to make Superpole 2, but that’s the way it goes. We will now try a few more set-up things in the morning, and I hope to improve things again.

“I didn’t expect to win against these seasoned riders, but I am having a lot of fun trying.”

Meanwhile, soaring temperatures expected to hit the circuit on Sunday is likely to make tyre conservation a key factor in the two races, according to polesitter Jonathan Rea.

Although concerned by the conditions, the factory Kawasaki rider from Northern Ireland remains confident he can convert his pole into victory.

“Honestly for me, the heat is not so bad,” said Rea.

“My riding style is quite economical. The problem with the heat is the race is going to be about managing tyres, not really about being the fastest guy.

“But my new Kawasaki team is amazing. I’ve got good tools in the tool box now so I can go about achieving my goals.

“No-one owes you anything, but I’m confident that I might be able to push for a win tomorrow.”

The first race of the 2015 World Superbike Championship is due to begin at midday local time.

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