Oulton Park at the weekend saw Tom Sykes have his best results so far this season in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship with sixth and seventh place finishes recorded on the MCE Ducati.
It was the first time he’s cracked the top six this season, not something he envisaged would take until round nine to happen when he joined the team at the beginning of the season. But despite the results, he still cut a frustrated figure at the end of the weekend.
The weekend started in a promising manner with 11th overall in practice but he slipped back to 16th in qualifying before regrouping with 12th place although this became 11th after Peter Hickman’s exclusion from the results.
“I was pleasantly happy with the way things were going in free practice with some good lap times and I was hoping to climb higher up the order with a new tyre in qualifying,” he said.
“Unfortunately, fitting a new tyre didn’t seem to agree with the bike and I wasn’t able to push on like I wanted. That meant the starting position wasn’t that good and although I got a good launch, I found myself blocked in and unable to move forward. It’s obviously disappointing and frustrating to come 11th.”
That put him even further back on the grid, 19th, for Sunday’s opener but the crashes and restarts helped his cause with seventh place taken in the seven-lap dash. That put him on the second row for the final race of the weekend, which he took full advantage of, running in the top six for the majority of the race.
He ultimately finished in sixth place and just 2.1s adrift of race winner Tommy Bridewell which was the closest he’s been to the leaders all year although his frustrations were still evident at the conclusion of the meeting.
“Today’s been a better day in terms of the results achieved with sixth and seventh being my two best finishes so far this season but it’s still frustrating not being in a position to show my true potential.
“Fair play to the team, they made a number of slight changes to try and help with the feel of the bike I was getting so I was able to pull some average results out of the bag today.”
“If we could get a better package, we’d be able to show much better but getting closer to the leaders was a small step forward whilst starting from the second row also made things a lot easier. It’s Donington Park next, a circuit I love, so let’s hope we can make further improvements there.”