Biaggi MotoGP and Bayliss WSBK test at Mugello

Two former world champions reunite on the track during test, one for fun, the other...serious?

max biaggi troy bayliss motogp world superbike test mugello
Gigi Soldano/

Back to the past, or is it the future? On Tuesday in Mugello, Max Biaggi and Troy Bayliss reunited on track. The Italian, who also tested on Monday, was on the Aprilia ART MotoGP bike, while the Australian hopped on the Panigale superbike for the first time in two years since his last test before spending most of his time serving as a riding instructor for Ducati. The former rivals enjoyed only half a day on track as the weather worsened in the afternoon, but still managed to show their ability. The reasons behind the respective tests, however, are different.

"For me, this was just a first contact with the bike," Biaggi said. "I need more laps to evaluate the bike, but there's no definite program as of now. The ART is not a pure MotoGP, but more like an old CRT bike. It's a good basis for a future prototype, you can develop electronics on it, but I don't know Aprilia's development program."

The Noale-based factory officially set 2016 as the comeback year, with a full prototype to be ready in the spring of 2015. There are speculations about Biaggi's potential involvement as a tester, but the Roman has not yet revealed his plans.

"I want to do something that pleases everyone involved," he added. "I thought about myself enough in the past 20 years, in the future I want to do things differently. I could be a 'super test rider', which doesn't imply racing, but doing everything like you're supposed to. It would be a big commitment, I'm not sure I'd be ready for that."

Given his riding experience, one could also think about Biaggi's involvement as a hybrid role between a team manager and a tester, such as what Vittoriano Guareschi did in his early years for Ducati. "I haven't thought about that," Biaggi said. "When I wear my leathers, I see myself differently."

If only time will tell in Biaggi's case, Bayliss has quickly clarified his intentions. "I'm not here to help develop the Panigale," the Australian remarked. "It's just a fun test, though I'm not the guy to just ride around. Mugello is a physical track and I didn't have great expectations since last time I rode the Ducati Superbike was two years ago. I'd say I was fast enough for half a day. I'd have like to do a couple more days of testing, as you cannot replicate the feeling of this bike without taking it on track. Maybe I'll have a chance after World Ducati Week in July."

Both riders, despite their respective ages – Biaggi is 42, Bayliss 45 – posted competitive (albeit unofficial) lap times. The Australian did a 1:52.6, while the Italian was a few tenths slower, with a 1:52.9. As a comparison, the Panigale's record in Mugello is a 1:50.0 posted by Niccolò Canepa, while MotoGP bikes lap in the 1:47 range.

To cut the final seconds and compete is a different matter, but the pair proved to still have some aces up their sleeves. "Troy looks a little more robust, but still has the same flair," Biaggi joked. Bayliss replied: "It's funny, we get along now more than ever. I always had much respect for Max. He looks fit and I'm sure he could still be competitive, it all depends on what he wants to do."

The answer, while it is clear in Bayliss' case, perhaps lies so deeply inside the heart of the Roman that even he does not know for sure. The call of the track, at any rate, is difficult not to obey.