WSBK: Bayliss finishes on top

Three-time champ retires on a winning note

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Nov. 03, 2008
Troy Bayliss wrapped up his World Superbike career by claiming a double-victory at the 2008 season-ending stop in Portimao, Portugal, Nov. 2.

The two victories, number ten and 11 on the season in this championship-winning season, gives Bayliss 52 career WSBK wins over nine seasons. Bayliss also recorded his 26th pole in Portimao.

“This was the perfect end to my racing career, to finish with pole and a double win, an absolute fantastic result,” says Bayliss. “I’ve been doing this for many years and it was a long way to come but I got here, and now I’m at the end of my career. I have a great team behind me and I thank all of them and the sponsors because you can’t do this without those guys. My career’s come to an end; I’ve won the championship and finished my career in one piece so it's incredible really.”

Bayliss jumped out to an early lead in Race 1. The Ducati rider finished the first lap with a lead of just under a second, but the gap grew wider after each of the first nine laps, increasing to 7.566 seconds after lap nine. Following in Bayliss’ wake was a pack of seven riders riding in close formation, separated by less than two seconds.

Troy Bayliss finishes his career with 52 wins in 152 World Superbike races.

“We had a dream start today. I was a little hesitant before Race 1 because none of us had done a lot of laps here so we weren’t sure for the tires but I think everyone was pretty much on the same rear,” says Bayliss. “The gap behind me got bigger and bigger which surprised me but I heard that there was a big battle behind me which worked to my advantage.”

Hanspree Ten Kate Honda’s Carlos Checa finally emerged from the pack to draw closer to Bayliss but it was not enough as the Ducati rider won with a 2.207 second lead. Yamaha Motor Italia’s Troy Corser rounded out the podium.

The second race saw Bayliss again taking the early lead.

With a third-place finish in Race 1, Troy Corser secured the runner-up spot in the final 2008 standings.“We changed a few things for the second race and I have to say that bike in Race 2 was the best bike I’ve ever ridden in my career,” says Bayliss.

Another Ducati rider, Ruben Xaus of the satellite team Sterilgarda Go Eleven kept pace with Bayliss in the first few laps of Race 2 until he crashed out on lap ten. Checa was also in contention but was forced off the track after Xaus crashed just ahead of him. Checa was able to stay on his bike but the detour dropped him to seventh.

“In the second race, everything felt good again and I was able to fight my way to the front,” says Checa. “Unfortunately, things happened that were beyond our control, but this track is fantastic because, in the tarmac run-off, I was able to avoid first Ruben and then his bike. When Dani Pedrosa crashes in front of you, you hardly notice. But when Ruben crashes in front of you, you can hardly see the track – it is just arms and legs everywhere!”

Xaus’ and Checa’s misfortune opened the door for Bayliss’ Xerox Ducati teammate Michel Fabrizio to assume the runner-up spot. Fabrizio came all the way from tenth place to finish second behind Bayliss.

Formula One legend Michael Schumacher greets Troy Bayliss.“I am of course extremely happy with the Race 2 result and I hope to be able to continue to improve next season, and live up to Troy’s reputation,” says Fabrizio. “In Race 2 I was very determined and managed to make up several positions in the initial laps. I pushed until the very end and took second place, my seventh podium of the 2008 season and a great way to finish the year. I will miss Troy so much, he is a fantastic person, an unbelievable rider and he has been the perfect teammate.”

Wildcard entrant Leon Haslam of HM Plant Honda finished third, denying Alstare Suzuki’s Max Neukirchner the final podium spot by less than a second.

World Superbike 2008 final top ten standings
Pos. Rider Team Points
1st Troy Bayliss Ducati 1098 F08 460
2nd Troy Corser Yamaha YZF-R1 342
3rd Noriyuki Haga Yamaha YZF-R1 327
4th Carlos Checa Honda CBR1000RR 313
5th Max Neukirchner Suzuki GSX-R1000 311
6th Fonsi Nieto Suzuki GSX-R1000 256
7th Max Biaggi Ducati 1098 RS 08 238
8th Michel Fabrizio Ducati 1098 F08 223
9th Ryuichi Kiyonari Honda CBR1000RR 206
10th Ruben Xaus Ducati 1098 RS 08 178