Troy Bayliss isn’t making an emphatic statement of intent but he would dearly love to leave the world Superbike scene as a winner – just as he ended his MotoGP career with a swansong victory as a wildcard in Valencia in 2006.
Although he has already claimed the world title this year, Bayliss isn’t the type to cruise through his final two races at the new Autodromo Internacional do Algarve circuit in Portugal this weekend.
Regardless of how he fares on his final race day, he can look back on an amazing international career that began later than most – he was 30 when he won the 1999 British Superbike Championship. Called to the world championship in May 2000 to replace the injured Carl Fogarty, Bayliss seized his chance.
He won the world title the following season, again in 2006, and for a third and final time this year.
In nine seasons and 150 race starts, he has scored 50 wins and 92 podium finishes.
"It’s been a long and stressful year and I’m tired," Bayliss said. "I feel I have just enough energy left to complete these last two races.
"I would love to finish the season – and my career – with a win, so that’s my goal this weekend, to ride with no pressure and just enjoy what will be my final two Superbike races."
Skaife will miss the rush Mark Skaife will have regrets. The 41-year-old has retired too early.
He has quit at an age when some fit and talented drivers have the potential to still win championships.
But the five-time Bathurst 1000 victor and winner of five touring car/V8 Supercars titles reckons he’s ready for the next phase of his life. "The realisation was at Surfers [Paradise] last weekend," Skaife told The Inside Line . "The car wasn’t good but normally I can still get on top of it. I just wasn’t driving the car like I want to."
Skaife plans to throw his all into the rest of the season with a special effort planned for his final weekend, at Sydney’s Oran Park next month.
And then he’s on to the next phase as director of racing for the team he owns with Tom Walkinshaw, the Holden Racing Team. "There’s a lot of vigour left and I think we’ll do some stuff that will really surprise a lot of people," Skaife said.
Swapping seats V8 Supercars will have a very different look next year, with Will Davison set to be announced as HRT’s new boy following Skaife’s retirement.
The HSV Dealer Team will disappear. The Kelly brothers, Rick and Todd, will drive for a new Kelly Racing outfit, which means Larry Perkins will need to replace the elder Kelly sibling.
Paul Dumbrell’s Commodore will be fettled at the HRT workshop.
Marcus Marshall, at Britek this year, is starting his own team using a Triple Eight Falcon.