As if debuting on a new bike for a new team backed by a multiple world champion isn’t daunting enough, Queenslander Mike Jones will have to do it twice next weekend.
The 21-year-old will kick-start 2016 with two rides in two race categories at Phillip Island, in his first outing with veteran Troy Bayliss’ DesmoSport outfit.
Jones will race as a wildcard in the opening round of the World Superbike Championship aboard a Ducati and then, in between, campaign his new 1299 Panigale S in the Australian Superbike Championship season-opener.
He was fastest at a two-day test at Phillip Island on the 1299 Panigale S earlier this month, but is yet to get a taste of his world superbike-spec machine which is still being prepared in Adelaide.
Jones will get his first chance in the final pre-season test on Monday and Tuesday.
“I’m just hanging back in Brisbane while the boys are hard at it in the Adelaide workshop putting our world superbike together,” Jones said.
“I have been cycling about 15 hours a week, running for a couple of hours, and also hitting the gym.
“I’m looking forward to the test. Troy will be in our pit from Monday so while I know and love Phillip Island, it will be great to get all the tips I can from the master.”
Bayliss, a three-time WorldSBK champion, chose Jones as his No.1 rider after watching him win the 2015 Australian Superbike Championship as a privateer aboard a Kawasaki.
The Brisbane-based Jones said he was nervous and worried at first he wouldn’t be able to adapt to an Italian Ducati.
“But it’s all good, and Troy’s quite happy with where we’re at and how we have adapted to the bike,” he said.
The event starts with practice and qualifying next Friday.