Mention Phillip Island and you can't help thinking of Troy Bayliss. And during the week leading up the opening World Superbike race, can also be found the legend at the Victoria circuit. For years we have been used to seeing him in action with a Ducati, this time instead he has a special role, that of father and coach at the same time.
At Phillip Island in fact, his son Oli has a double appointment - making his debut in the SuperSport World Championship and at the same time taking part in the ASBK round. In short, there is no lack of work for the three-time Superbike champion.
"I’ve got the bike on the truck, but this time I’m not using it - Troy joked - it would have been nice to race here at Phillip Island, but I have a pretty demanding job (he smiles). As you know, I’m here following Oli closely, as he is preparing for his World Supersport debut. It's an important step for him, I see he’s enthusiastic, a bit tense, but it's part of the game. I have to try and give him confidence, but above all the right indications so he can understand the track and the bike better".
Did he ask you for any particular advice?
“We always talk every time he returns to the pits, so I can understand what his feelings are with the Yamaha. I try to convey to him what was my experience on the track in Phillip Island, aware that this is not an easy track and the World Championship is complicated. There are a lot of strong and experienced riders."
A lot of people are wondering if we will see Oli in Europe…
“He would love to come, but first he has to try and win the ASBK 600 Championship and focus on his studies. Then we’ll see what we can do. Obviously, the goal is the Supersport World Championship in 2021, but at the same time I’m also thinking about a possibility with Moto2".
How do you live with the fact that you are on the pit wall and your son is on the track?
"It’s not easy, in fact I can’t deny that I’m a bit concerned. My wife experiences this situation much better, since she has more experience than me. I’m going to need some time (he smiles)".
Troy, the world championship gets underway here at Phillip Island. Who is going to win Race 1?
"Difficult question. For sure, Rea is the man to beat and he starts as favourite. The fact is that this year there are quite a few developments and changes and so everything will be more interesting. There is for example Toprak with Yamaha and Scott with Ducati".
You mentioned Redding. What should we expect from him?
“I don't know if he can bring home the win or not. For sure, this is a great opportunity for him to take advantage of. He is a nice rider, in his ways he recalls the riders of the 80s, it will be interesting to see him in action in the Superbike World Championship"
And MotoGP will start in a week. What does Ducati have to do to beat Marquez? It looks like Mission Impossible.
“Ducati is doing everything possible to beat Marc and you can see that from all the technical innovations it continually brings to the track during the tests. It can also rely on a rider like Dovizioso, who has shown his potential on several occasions. Ducati is not doing anything wrong, it simply found itself up against a phenomenon like Marc and it is not easy to live with that".
Staying on the subject of MotoGP, do you think this is Rossi's last year?
“A lot will depend on how competitive he is, but apart from that he remains a legend for me. Vale doesn't need to prove anything to anyone, he can even retire tomorrow and would still be a legend. He doesn't need wins, titles, we all know what he’s worth. In my opinion he can still win like I did that time in Valencia. Age doesn’t count, he continues to train and he’s in shape."
Last comment: did it surprise you to see Lorenzo as a test rider?
"Jorge made his choice and the only thing that matters is that he is happy."