Triple World Superbike champion Troy Bayliss had his first run on an 800cc MotoGP bike yesterday when he was drafted in to test for Ducati at Mugello. The test was the first time Bayliss had been on a MotoGP machine since his sensational win in a one-off appearance for Ducati at the 2006 season finale, and his first run on any kind of competition bike since he retired from Superbikes last year.
"This is literally the first time I've ridden a motorcycle since we unveiled the 1198 after the end of last season at Portimao", said Bayliss. "It was nice to shake off a bit of rust and with Mugello being such a physical circuit it was a good work-out."
Bayliss, who will ride for the team for three days this week, said he had spent Tuesday acclimatizing to the bike.
"The last time I rode a GP machine was at Valencia, which was the 990cc, but the 800cc isn't exactly lacking power and I just spent today getting a feel for it," he said. "I can't wait to get back out there and hopefully by the end of the session I'll be able to give some useful feedback to [technical director] Filippo [Preziosi]."
The Australian's test is part of a concerted effort by Ducati to get more of its riders up to speed on the GP9, as so far its 800cc bikes have only achieved consistent success in the hands of Casey Stoner.
Nicky Hayden is currently struggling to get up to speed on the second factory bike as his predecessors Loris Capirossi and Marco Melandri also had done, and while satellite Pramac team rider Mika Kallio has shown promising speed, his teammate Niccolo Canepa and Hernando Ducati rider Sete Gibernau are currently off the pace.
In addition to seeking Bayliss' input in this week's three-day test, Ducati has also reshuffled its engineering lineup and adjusted its electronics in a bid to make the GP9 more amenable.