21 Retires on Top

Troy Bayliss’ last ride.

Troy Bayliss

Australian Troy Bayliss, three-time World Superbike Champion, said his good-byes by running away with both legs of the final round of the 2008 series in Portimão, Portugal. I was lucky enough to hang with Troy and family and friends in the Ducati pits, where hospitality flowed all weekend for his flawless farewell performance.

Starting from pole position, Bayliss led every lap of both races on his F08 Ducati Superbike, taking his career total to 53 victories in the class. It was a pleasure to witness Bayliss' ever-sharp skills and hear the thundering twin-cylinder Desmo echoing off the hills around the brand-new Portuguese circuit.

After the second leg, I gave Troy the thumbs-up as he looked down from the top of the podium. Later that night, during the celebration, I asked Troy if he was satisfied with his last WSB effort. "Leave to the last race to get the bike just perfect," he said a little wistfully. "I saw the checked flag and wanted to do a few more laps to see if I could beat my shadow—I finished second...it just got me at the line."

It was an amazing weekend and an end to an amazing World Superbike career. Race fans around the world, including all of us at Cycle World, will miss seeing Bayliss in action. He was one of the best ever.

Troy Bayliss

Troy Bayliss

Troy Bayliss

Troy Bayliss

Troy Bayliss

Troy Bayliss

Troy Bayliss

Troy Bayliss