“No one had any doubts about his great talent”
A fifth place in race 1 at Imola on Sunday was sufficient to crown Troy Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) as World Superbike Champion for the second time in his career. With a comfortable lead of 87 points as the championship headed into
its final two rounds, all Troy had to do was finish fourth or better in race 1 to clinch the title had his closest rival Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha) won the race.
That didn't happen however and Troy even eased off at the Variante Bassa to allow Haga through into fourth as he knew that the title was his for the second time. With all the pressure off, Bayliss, wearing a set of specially-made ‘rainbow jersey' world championship leathers and helmet, then dominated the second race of the day on the Ducati 999F06 to take his first-ever win at Imola.
This latest victory is another remarkable chapter in the success story of the 37-year- old from Taree, Australia. Signed up by Ducati Corse in 2000 as a replacement for the injured Carl Fogarty, Bayliss won two races in his sensational debut year on the 996 and then took the world title the following year. A season-long battle with Colin Edwards in 2002 concluded at Imola in front of 100,000 spectators with a narrow win for the Texan, and although Troy moved to MotoGP for the next three years, that was not the last World Superbikes was to see of the Australian. After two years on the Ducati Desmosedici and one on the Honda in MotoGP, Troy accepted an offer from Ducati Corse at the end of 2005 to return to the championship where he had made his name.
The rest is recent history, as Troy followed up two seconds and a sixth place in the opening three races with an unbeaten run of eight wins to stamp his authority on the championship. Things were not as smooth in the second half of the season as other riders and manufacturers came on strong, but it all came good at Imola on Sunday.
"It's really been a perfect day for me and everyone involved in Ducati," declared Troy at the end of the day. "I said to my guys ?it's win or crash' and I wasn't going to lose the second race. 21 laps round Imola is enough, I'm destroyed after today. The whole weekend's taken its toll, it's been a lot of hard work but I'm really happy to have taken the championship and my first-ever win here at Imola in front of all the Ducati fans."
Ducati Corse Superbike Program Director Paolo Ciabatti, who together with Team Manager Davide Tardozzi, was responsible for bringing Troy Bayliss back to World Superbikes with Ducati, was enthusiastic about having the #1 plate back again after one year.
"Bringing Troy Bayliss back to Superbike was a challenge that we accepted with great enthusiasm," he declared. "No one had any doubts about his great talent but to win the championship here at Imola with one race remaining gives us great satisfaction because it means that we have won that challenge. We are delighted that Troy has won his second championship with us and taken a first title for the Ducati Xerox Team."
Troy's championship victory was greeted with immense satisfaction within the team's title sponsor, Xerox. After entering the World Superbike championship with a satellite Ducati squad in 2004, the multinational document management and technology solutions company joined up with Ducati Corse in 2005 and this title win comes in their second season as sponsor of the factory Ducati Superbike team.
"We are absolutely thrilled that Troy has won the 2006 world championship," said Anthony Hyde, Head of Brand and Marketing Communications, Xerox Europe. "He has an enormous amount of focus, determination and dedication to the sport and his team - something that is very admirable and inspirational. Troy deserves this win, and we at Xerox are certainly proud to be in partnership with this outstanding team!"
Press Release Ducati