Jean Michel Bayle is a multi-time AMA and World Motocross Champion who later turned to road racing, where he also enjoyed success on the world stage. Over the course of his career he raced with a variety of manufacturers, including Kawasaki, Honda, Aprilia, Team Roberts KR3, and Yamaha. He has also piloted cars in off-road rally and touring car races.
Born April 1, 1969 in Manosque, France, Jean Michele Bayle began riding motorcycles at age 6. He raced throughout the early 1980s as an amateur, and at age 13 won the 1982 Provence Championship. In 1985 at age 16 he entered the 250cc class at the Paris Bercy Supercross, racing aboard a Kawasaki. While his Bercy results were not impressive, this was his first taste of racing against an international field of competitors, including many AMA Supercross stars of the time.
In 1986 Bayle finished 4th in the French National 125cc Motocross Championship. He also raced in the 125cc World Championship, where he earned points and finished 24th at season’s end.
In 1987 he switched to Honda with plans to race in the World 125cc Championship, the French National 125cc Motocross Championship, and the 250cc class of the French National Supercross series. Bayle dominated the French 125cc class, winning his first national title, and earned 3rd-place in the World 125cc Championship. In 1988, he went on the win the World 125cc Motocross Championship, the French National 125cc Motocross title, and the French 250cc Supercross title.
In 1989, after consulting with Honda Racing’s Roger DeCoster (also an AMA Hall of Fame member), Bayle planned to race a limited season in the U.S. aboard a 250cc machine, then race in the World 250cc Championship, and then return to the U.S. to race in the AMA 500cc Motocross Championship. Bayle acquired an AMA competition license and trained in California, then entered and won the AMA 250cc Motocross race in Gainesville, Florida. He then campaigned and won the World 250cc Championship. Ironically, the Frenchman became World Champion while licensed as a U.S.-based AMA competitor. He followed up with a win at the AMA 500cc Motocross race in New Berlin, New York, and finished that season ranked fifth overall while racing against such notable contemporaries as Jeff Ward, Jeff Stanton and Rick Johnson, among others.
In 1990 Bayle returned to the U.S. to race in the AMA 125cc Motocross Championship, where he earned three overall wins and was ranked fourth overall in points. He contested the AMA 250cc Supercross Series, earning five wins and finishing as runner-up for the title.
In 1991 Bayle and Honda set their sights on winning the AMA 250cc and 500cc Motocross Championships, as well as the AMA 250cc Supercross title. Bayle went on to earn three wins and the title of the six-race AMA 500cc Motocross Championship (the remaining three races were won by Jeff Ward). He also won the AMA 250cc Motocross Championship, and took the AMA 250cc Supercross Series title with eight wins.
Bayle entered the 1992 AMA 250cc Motocross Championship, taking a win at Troy, Ohio, and earning three wins in the AMA 250cc Supercross Series, but his career would change course for the 1993 season.
Having entered the 1992 French Grand Prix 250cc road race aboard a Honda, in 1993 Bayle switched entirely to road racing. He teamed with Aprilia in the World 250cc Championship, finishing that season ranked 22nd, with a best result of 8th place at the British Grand Prix. He improved in 1994, earning top-five finishes at the British and Czech Republic Grand Prix. Bayle continued with Aprilia for the 1995 World 250cc Championship, earning pole position at the Argentina Grand Prix.
In 1996 he moved up to the World 500cc Championship riding a Team Roberts Yamaha. He earned five top-five finishes, and took pole position at the Czech Republic GP. In 1997 he rode the Modenas KR3 and finished the season ranked 19th. He continued to race in the World 500cc Championship in 1998, taking pole position and a top-five finish at Imola aboard a Team Rainey Yamaha. He raced his final year in the World 500cc Championship in 1999 aboard the Proton Modenas KR3.
In 2002, Bayle teamed with Sébastien Gimbert and Nicolas Dussauge to win the Bol d'Or and the 24 Hours of Le Mans motorcycle road course endurance races. In the mid-2000s Bayle’s career took another turn as he moved to four wheels, competing in Touring Car and Off-Road Rally races in Europe.
Jean Michel Bayle was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum in 2000.