Sykes: "The target is to finish strong for these guys"

Thursday, 25 October 2018 21:11 GMT

Yorkshireman faces final two races with Kawasaki in top form

Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was the third fastest man on Thursday at the Losail International Circuit and confirmed that he is up for a fight in his final round onboard the ZX-10RR, as he bids farewell to the Kawasaki Racing Team after nine successful seasons together in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship.

With the 33-year-old’s plans for the 2019 season yet to be announced, Sykes faces the final round with just one thing on his mind: to add at least one more win to the 34 he has claimed with the Japanese marque since 2010. It won’t be easy, but the Yorkshireman got off to a great start on day one of the Pirelli Qatar Round, ending the day just eight thousandths of a second behind his teammate Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK).

Sykes found many positive signs at the end of Thursday: “The pace is there or thereabouts, much stronger than last year. Kind of rolling on from Argentina, there we had very strong pace at the end of the race. I was probably the fastest guy on track, we were just missing that initial speed. We’ve played a little bit with the balance and the set-up of the ZX-10RR here in Qatar, and I feel we’re much more prepared. The consistency and pace is there, just need to work a little more on the initial speed”.

Naturally, this is an emotional weekend for the 2013 World Champion, who aims to finish his career with the green machines in the best way possible: “We’ve definitely had a lot of success together. I’m grateful for the opportunity. I was branded Mr Kawasaki by some of the top guys there – whether I still hold that name or not is another thing! But likewise, they were grateful for the input I put in the development. Naturally, it’s come to the end of the road. The target is to finish strong for these guys, and then move on from there”.

Will Sykes increase his Superpole record in Qatar? Find out on Friday as qualifying kicks off at 16:30 local time (13:30 GMT), with all the action available live thanks to WorldSBK VideoPass.