Troy Bayliss is a Phillip Island hero, having won six world superbike (WorldSBK) races at the grand prix circuit during a stellar career in the production-based series.
Now long retired – apart from a two-round WorldSBK cameo in 2015 as a replacement rider in the factory Ducati squad – the road racing focus in the Bayliss household on the Gold Coast has now firmly shifted to Oli Bayliss.
The 13-year-old, the youngest of three children for Troy and his wife Kim, will this weekend begin his first full year of road racing as he saddles up in the Australian Supersport 300 Championship opener at Phillip Island on a Kawasaki.
Even at such a tender age, Troy believes Oli “has a good head for racing”.
“He doesn’t do silly shit like I used to,” said Troy. “He already has an older head on younger shoulders and has a good race brain. I can’t keep up with him at our test track anymore!
“Saying that, I have helped him a lot with setup, so he hasn’t had to go through a lot of the pain that I did when I was starting out in road racing – by pain I mean lots of crashes!”
Troy believes Oli can be a front-runner in the seven-round Supersport 300 championship – and the initial signs are positive after he completed today’s opening practice session with the fifth fastest time out of 43 riders. Final qualifying is tomorrow followed by three eight-lap races over Saturday and Sunday of the WorldSBK weekend.
“I was really happy with my practice time,” said Oli. “It’s three seconds faster than I did here in at test day last month, and I ran wide at turn one and 12 on the hot lap. I still have some left in reserve.”
Troy is a massive fan of the Supersport 300 concept. He said: “It’s all about learning race craft and, while I started out on two-stroke production bikes which had a much narrower powerband, the fundamentals of the Supersport 300 class are just the same.
“It’s a very cost-effective form of racing, too – I hardly do any maintenance, the engines are bullet proof, and the main expense is on tyres.”
The class is notionally for riders 16 and above, but there is an exemption that allows riders who meet certain criteria to contest the series from as young as 13 years old.
And that’s where Oli, whose motorcycle racing background is dirt rack, enters the scene – one of seven sub 16-year-olds competing at Phillip Island this weekend.
“It’s amazing to think that Oli is here is a 13-year-old, and I didn’t’ start road racing until I was 21,” said Troy. “Who knows where the future in motorcycle le racing will take him. He’d like to make a living from it and was thinking about taking the Moto3 route, but he’s quite a strapping lad at 13 so we may have to look at some bigger bikes. I just don’t know yet.”
Troy Bayliss retired at the end of 2008 with three WorldSBK titles, all achieved on a Ducati. He was the last Aussie to win a WorldSBK race that same year. Troy’s six WorldSBK wins at Phillip Island is only bettered by his countryman Troy Corser.