Yorkshire rider thrilled to be back on top after superb Sunday triumph
It had been nearly a year since he had last climbed to the top of the podium, Race 1 at Misano 2017, to be exact. For a former World Champion that can seem like an eternity, and by Tom Sykes’s (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) expression after the race, he is no exception, the image of frustration that had followed him through the Aragon Round turning into absolute elation.
The 2013 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Champion showed incredible pace on Saturday but struggled when having to overtake. In Race 2 at Assen, however, from pole, a good start was all he needed to cruise to a dominant win, almost out of view from his teammate Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). A relieved Sykes was thankful for the clear track ahead of him.
“I feel like it’s been a long time coming”, he starts. “I feel like people were probably thinking that I was making excuses this year. We’ve had such a fantastic pace at pretty much every Round, but we’ve had a little bit of bad luck, got stuck in traffic… I’ve always said that on a clear track we’re not in a bad position, and finally it was nice, because today I could prove that. A little bit of the old magic was back today, that’s for sure”.
Sykes’ race was almost flawless, with the Brit so far ahead that even a late scare nearly went unnoticed: “We just made one mistake, close to the end of the race. I locked the front tyre going into Turn 1, quite early, I just released the brake, ran off the track and lost a lot of time, but I just responded to my pit-board”.
“When you have six seconds you just think to yourself: “Thank heavens!””, he continues. “You can almost play on the side of the tyre, not take any risks and bring it home. To see the guys hanging over the pit-wall, finally, cheering… It’s magical to give them this result for all the hard work”.
Sykes had fallen back to 7th in the championship standings before this Round, but is now fifth and approaching the Ducatis. However, he still sees room for improvement in his Kawasaki, with many of the previous issues yet to be resolved: “I’ve said it time and time again this year, if it was a time-trial race I feel confident, and today it was like a TT race, I could just go and race myself. This is great, but we need to improve the Kawasaki for when were in battle, and that’s something we’ll focus on in the tests up and coming”.
Watch Sykes celebrate his Assen win, along with highlights, reactions and more from the MOTUL Dutch Round, thanks to the WorldSBK VideoPass.