Bayliss looks V8 car star

Pink’s fast but Troy’s the boy, writeMARKHINCHLIFFE and PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

PINK, Troy Bayliss, Layne Beach­ley and Carey Hart have all fallen un­der the V8 Su­per­car spell. Each has cut loose in a V8 Aussie mus­cle car in the past week and at least one plans a full-time track at­tack in a Su­per­car be­fore the year is out.

But is it the rock star, the cham­pion surfer, the world su­per­bike cham­pion or the freestyle mo­tocross ace? The an­swer should be ob­vi­ous: it’s Bayliss. He might have re­tired from world su­per­bike action on his ram­pag­ing Du­cati, but there is no way he is ready for ‘‘real’’ re­tire­ment.

Bayliss has bought a house on the Gold Coast with enough space for his fam­ily, toys and mile­stone ma­chines, but he is out cycling most days — he could have been a pro­fes­sional racer — and has been looking for a V8 Su­per­car op­por­tu­nity for more than a year.

There is even a chance Bayliss could even­tu­ally team with Aus­tralia’s other twowheeled su­per­star of re­cent years, mo­tocross world cham­pion Chad Reed. But that will be once Reed has joined Bayliss in so-called re­tire­ment and re­turned home.

Bayliss had his first se­ri­ous hit-out in a V8 Su­per­car with TeamVoda­fone in a stun­ning test drive in Craig Lown­des’ old race car at Queens­land Race­way. He even­tu­ally cut a com­pet­i­tive lap time, but also showed his sig­na­ture com­mit­ment to en­gi­neer­ing and tuning him­self through the day.

‘‘He could eas­ily race in the top five of the de­vel­op­ment se­ries or in the fi­nal 10 of the main se­ries,’’ team chief en­gi­neer Ludo Lacroix says of Bayliss’s laps.

In sharp con­trast, Layne Beach­ley had a fun run in the red-and-sil­ver racer. Her high­light was a spin.

‘‘I had a com­plete Beach­ley says.

While the world champs hit Queens­land Race­way in the cham­pi­onship-winning Fal­con, the su­per­star cou­ple — Pink and Hart — strapped into a Com­modore at Holden’s safe driv­ing cen­tre on the Gold Coast.

It was only fun for the singer and the stunt rider, but Hart would also like more. He clearly en­joyed one-on-one track time with Rus­sell In­gall of the Su­percheap Auto team.

‘‘I had an ab­so­lute ball out there to­day and was amazed at how fast the car went — my favourite part was the brak­ing,’’ Pink says.

But it’s Bayliss who has the po­ten­tial for a ca­reer switch. The three-time world su­per­bike cham­pion lapped in 1min 12.6sec, close to the

brain

ex­plo­sion,’’ bench­mark 1:11.8 set by Lown­des as he warmed the car for his guest star.

‘‘I’ve al­ways been a big V8 fan. First time out was fun. The rest of the day has been like work,’’ Bayliss says.

Af­ter each timed ses­sion, Bayliss went straight to Lown­des’ race en­gi­neer Jeromy Moore to study the com­puter teleme­try and get ad­vice on how to im­prove his times.

Late in the day he found the ex­tra speed, trip­ping the clock at a very re­spectable 1:11.85. To put that into con­text, the race lap record is 1:11.0033, set by Garth Tan­der in 1999.

Bayliss says he is re­ally se­ri­ous about break­ing into V8 Su­per­cars.

‘‘I want to leave a good im­pres­sion; I don’t want to just cir­cu­late,’’ he says. ‘‘I’ve ticked all the boxes so far and I’ve im­proved. I feel like I’m at home.’’

French­man Lacroix says mo­tor­cy­cle road rac­ers un­der­stand cor­rect racing lines and have the right feel to race cars.

Valentino Rossi set com­pet­i­tive times dur­ing test runs with the Fer­rari For­mula One team, and John Sur­tees won a grand prix world ti­tle with Fer­rari in the 1960s af­ter a string of GP cham­pi­onships on two wheels.

‘‘They also don’t like to come off be­cause it hurts, so they don’t drive silly,’’ he says.

‘‘He now just needs to get his head around four wheels and a locked diff.’’

Bayliss was in­vited to test by TeamVoda­fone prin­ci­pal Roland Dane, whose ex­otic bikes in­clude a Du­cati 1098R and a pri­vately im­ported Du­cati Des­mosedici Mo­toGP race replica. There is ev­ery chance he will pro­vide the hard­ware when Bayliss is ready to race. But Dane says Bayliss is not fully ap­pre­ci­ated in his home coun­try.

‘‘We don’t re­alise what a su­per­star he is,’’ Dane says. ‘‘In the UK they know him as a su­per­star. They re­spect Casey Stoner, but they re­spect and like Troy. For me he be­came a god when he won the last 990cc GP race in Va­len­cia in 2006.

‘‘He just needs more seat time and race time. It would also be nice to see him make an en­duro round.’’

Mean­while, Beach­ley grap­pled with the 450kW racer de­spite racing a Mini in the Aus­tralian Grand Prix celebrity race. She ground some gears, missed a turn and spun out.

‘‘Bloody chick driv­ers. Do I need to go back and get the gear­box? I think it’s over at turn four,’’ she jokes with the pit crew.

‘‘When you are surf­ing in shark-in­fested wa­ters you know they’re there, but here you have to deal with gravel pits, gearshifts and sharp cor­ners.’’

At the Holden Per­for­mance Driv­ing Cen­tre in Nor­well, Pink and Hart took turns driv­ing in a Su­percheap Auto race replica.

‘‘I was smooth, fast and picked some great lines,’’ Pink says.

‘‘I do most of the driv­ing be­tween us so it was good to take it to a track en­vi­ron­ment where it is to­tally dif­fer­ent.’’

Hart turned up with his own fire­proof race suit and was much more se­ri­ous about his stint. He even im­pressed team man­ager Paul Mor­ris with his first ef­fort in a right-hand-drive car.

‘‘He didn’t put a foot wrong,’’ a spokesman says.

Hart says it took a while to get used to the car, but he was happy to im­prove with more laps.

‘‘The brak­ing and cor­ner­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties are in­cred­i­ble; some­thing you can’t get the feel for un­til you are ac­tu­ally sit­ting in the car,’’ he says.

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