MCE Ducati’s Tom Sykes was back in the mix after a challenging Bennetts British Superbike visit to Thruxton at the weekend.
Ninth in Saturday’s eBay sprint race was backed up by another top ten in Sunday’s final feature after the Yorkshireman slipped just adrift, in twelfth, for the morning contest.
Having initially had a strong Friday, despite not visiting the Hampshire track for almost a decade and a half, Sykes gained direct entry to Q2 with the fourth fastest practice time before completing qualifying 14th overall.
Progressing through the pack in the punishing heat of the afternoon’s 15-lap race, the 36-year-old was just a quarter of a second behind fellow ex-WorldSBK rider Leon Haslam at the flag in the battle for eighth.
Sunday proved just as challenging as Sykes lined up from eighth on the grid, launching to fifth by the close of lap one before slipping back to seventh by half-race-distance. The second half of the 20-lap race proved more difficult, however, and he crossed the line 12th.
The final race showed promise once more as he improved from 13th to ninth on the opening lap before continuing his rise and circulating sixth after ten laps. His pace once again began to fade in the final third with tenth the best he could salvage at the flag.
“It’s been 14 years since I’ve raced at Thruxton but practice on Friday went to plan, and everything immediately fell into place on the MCE Ducati,” Sykes explained of his round six weekend. “Expectations were a lot higher but the clear limitations we’re working under haven’t gone away and, unfortunately, qualifying saw me fall back down the order. That made the race that bit harder, but I was able to move forward and gain a few places.
“It’s disappointing to finish tenth and twelfth as that’s not what I came to BSB for but I’m not able to do any better than that at present,” he confirmed on Sunday night.
“It was obviously nice to be at the sharp end and run in the top six for most of each race but there was little grip left at the end in either race.
“I rode conservative at the beginning and waited before making my move but when the time came, there wasn’t the grip to allow me to make that move. I know both my own and the team’s capabilities, so we’ll keep working hard as it’s not in our ethic to do anything but that.”