Aussie road racing legend Troy Bayliss has completed a remarkable comeback to racing, with a thrilling second place in the 2018 Yamaha Motor Insurance Australian Superbike Championship opener at Phillip Island today.
Bayliss, 48, displayed all the fighting qualities that made him a household name in the ’90s and noughties, fighting to the death knell on his Ducati as he finished on the hammer of Honda’s Troy Herfoss and ahead of reigning champion Josh Waters (Suzuki).
It was Bayliss’ first race in the Aussie superbike ranks since way back in 1997.
With Waters in control of proceedings, the race was red-flagged on the first attempt when light rain started to fall. It was then restarted as a ‘wet’ race in what would be a six-lap dash to the finish line.
However, the majority of the field stuck with a slick tyre combination, and the racing was breathtaking at the front with positional changes aplenty.
Bayliss was briefly in front on the final lap before Herfoss took over the running, and that’s how they finished, with Waters in turn ahead of Bryan Staring (Kawasaki) – the quartet separated by just half a second.
“I’m really so happy to get a race under my belt. In dodgy conditions you have really got to use your head, but it was very stressful.
It was a real dog fight in part two. Waters and Herfoss are Australian champions, switched on and good to ride with. So even though it looked pretty wild, we were pretty good to each other.”
It was a surreal experience for Herfoss, who found himself up against his childhood hero.
“I had to take him off my hero list as soon as I found out I was racing against him. I’m glad I got that ‘I’m racing against Troy Bayliss race’ out of the road early. It feels good to put the Penrite Honda on the top step of the podium, because as I said this morning: ‘You can have a thousand failures but a win makes up for everything’. The hard work to get here was worth it and, although the conditions were trying in race one, but we’ll take every win we can get.”
Bayliss couldn’t quite snag a victory on his 2018 debut, but it was still stellar day for the family with his 14-year-old son Oli finishing first and second in the two supersport 300 races.
Daniel Falzon (Yamaha), Aaron Morris (Yamaha), Alex Phillis (Suzuki) and Michael Blair (Yamaha) completed the top eight in the superbike opener.
Races two and three for the superbikes will be held at 11:35am and 4:30pm tomorrow.
ASBK Race One Results
- Troy Herfoss (Honda)
- Troy Bayliss (Ducati)
- Josh Waters (Suzuki)
- Bryan Staring (Kawasaki)
- Daniel Falzon (Yamaha)
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