Retirement age is going up, and not even riders are immune to this. Don't worry. We haven't decided to inaugurate a column on politics. We're talking about sports and took the cue from Romano Albesiano. In one of our interviews (read HERE), Aprilia's technical manager mentioned Max Biaggi as a great test rider for the Sepang tests, since there's the risk that Iannone won't be available because of the doping affair he's involved in.
Seeing the Corsair on an Aprilia again (the brand he represented), moreover in the MotoGP, would definitely tickle the fancy of every self-respecting fan, and dreaming costs nothing. Maybe even the interested party doesn't know whether to accept this proposal, or not. "Yeah, it's really tempting !" he wrote on Facebook, sharing our interview.
Max isn't new to such records of longevity. We shouldn't forget that he won his last SBK title when he was over 41, and he got on the podium, once again in the World Championship reserved for the derivatives, for the last time in Sepang when he was 44. Now he's 48, he enjoys riding on the track with his RSV4, and should feel proud just because they thought of him in the upper echelons in Noale.
Surely, if he decides to get his suit on in Malaysia, he'd be the most... expert tester. Sylvain Guintoli, who does the same job for Suzuki and who crossed wheels with Biaggi in the SBK, and who still has to celebrate his 38th birthday, would end up looking like a kid at this point.
Eternal Bayliss, on the podium at 50 in the Australian SBK
Besides 40-year-old Rossi, there are many riders who have come back into play at retirement age. The most recent case is that of Troy Bayliss, who climbed onto the podium at Phillip Island last October in the Australian SBK Championship on the Ducati Panigale V4R. At the age of 50, Troy has proven that he still knows how to hit the gas.
Schwantz and "team Villa Arzilla" at the 8 Hours on Suzuki
In 2013, at the Suzuka 8 Hours, the Kagayama team - nicknamed "team Villa Arzilla" - had made the headlines. The crew for the endurance race was not exactly made up of spring chickens: Yukio (39 years old), Noriyuki Haga (38 years old), and Kevin Schwantz (49 years old). Old riders know best, since the three of them reached the podium with Suzuki.
Hailwood, king of the TT at almost 40
Going back over the years, we can't forget Mike Hailwood's return to racing (10 years after retiring) at the Tourist Trophy. The Bike was 38 years old when he won in the TT F1 class with Ducati and repeated this the following year (1979) in the Senior TT with Suzuki.
Record McWilliams in the Moto2
But Jeremy McWilliams held the record in the championship. In 2014, at 50 years of age, the rider from Northern Ireland raced in the Silverstone GP in the Moto2 with the Taylormade. It was the maximum age limit allowed by the regulations to participate in the World Championship. The bike was a very interesting project, built entirely in carbon, but Jeremy finished the race in 29th, second to last, lapped by one lap.
Biaggi's name would not look out of place in the list above, and his suggestions could be very useful in developing the new RS-GP. We'll soon see. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.