Britain’s Tom Sykes has praised the Kawasaki team after claiming a superb first career World Superbike Championship win at the Nurburgring, in Germany, in terrible weather conditions at the weekend.
It was a day of mixed emotions, however, for Sykes. His victory also came on the same day he was apparently informed he would not be retained by Kawasaki for the 2012 season
Considered something of a wet weather specialist having scored two pole positions for Kawasaki in similar weather, Sykes quickly established himself as a front runner when race two got underway under rainy skies.
Though he would lose several seconds to Noriyuki Haga out front, Sykes found himself in the right place at the right time when the rain intensified and the Japanese rider ahead slid out.
Leaving him at the head of the field, with the race being stopped shortly afterwards, Sykes was declared the winner, a remarkable result for the manufacturer, which hasn’t even enjoyed a podium finish since Magny-Cours in 2007.
A first win for Kawasaki since Chris Walker won in similarly bad conditions at Assen in 2006, it is also Sykes’s first WSBK victory in 74 starts and his first podium since his wild-card performance for Rizla Suzuki at Donington Park in 2008.
“To get a first World Superbike win under my belt is fantastic, also with the new Kawasaki,” Sykes, who finished 11th in the dry first race, said.
“Everybody in the team knows every time I put my leg over the bike it is all or nothing; that is the way I ride, and fortunately today that commitment paid off in race two. I got a gap behind me in the worst conditions but as the track had less water on it for a time, unfortunately our times seemed to tail off and I came under pressure from Sylvain. But as the standing water increased again we found our pace.
“In race one everything went to plan at the start but both the wrong tyre choice and my physical condition did not help, so when it started raining I had a bit of a grin to myself. We changed the bike quite a lot from the last time in Misano when we got pole position so obviously it was a little bit of a gamble in wet conditions. The guys gave me a great package.”
2011 World Superbike Championship rider standings (After round 10 of 13, previous round position in brackets)
1.(1) Carlos Checa Althea Ducati, 376 points
2.(3) Marco Melandri Yamaha SBK, 302
3.(2) Max Biaggi Aprilia Alitalia, 281
4.(4) Eugene Laverty Yamaha SBK, 232
5.(5) Leon Haslam BMW Motorrad, 176
6.(6) Leon Camier Aprilia Alitalia, 154
7.(7) Michel Fabrizio Suzuki Alstare, 141
8.(9) Sylvain Guintoli Effenbert-Liberty Ducati, 139
9.(8) Ayrton Badovini BMW Italia, 134
10.(10) Noriyuki Haga PATA Aprilia, 115
11.(14) Tom Sykes Kawasaki RTS, 114
12.(12) Jonathan Rea Castrol Honda, 113
13.(11) Joan Lascorz Kawasaki Racing, 111
14.(13) Jakub Smrz Effenbert-Liberty Ducati, 109
15.(15) Troy Corser BMW Motorrad, 67
16.(16) Ruben Xaus Castrol Honda, 44
17.(17) Maxime Berger Supersonic Ducati, 42
18.(18) Roberto Rolfo Pedercini Kawasaki, 39
19.(20) Mark Aitchison Pedercini Kawasaki, 24
20.(19) John Hopkins Samsung Crescent Suzuki, 20
21.(21) Chris Vermeulen Kawasaki Racing, 14
22.(22) James Toseland BMW Italia, 13
23.(23) Lorenzo Lanzi BMW Italia, 10
24.(24) Josh Waters Yoshimura Suzuki, 8
25.(25) Matteo Baiocco Barni Ducati, 4
26.(26) Alessandro Polita Barni Ducati, 3
27.(27) Barry Veneman BMW Italia, 3
28.(28) Jon Kirkham Samsung Crescent Suzuki, 3
29.(29) Bryan Staring Pedercini Kawasaki, 1
30.(30) Fabrizio Lai Echo CRS Honda, 1
31.(31) Alex Lowes Castrol Honda, 1
32.(32) Viktor Kispataki Prop-Tech Honda, 1
Photo courtesy Kawasaki