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Imola WorldSBK: Resurgent Sykes grabs championship fourth

n finishing second in WorldSBK race one at Imola in Italy, Kawasaki's Tom Sykes only had his team-mate Jonathan Rea ahead of him, as he moved up to fourth in the championship.]

It was a double underlined Kawasaki day, with an official Ninja ZX-10RR rider one and two, but there was no repeat of Sykes’ race two win at Assen.

“Our pace was pretty good and we just missed a few tenths compared to Jonathan,” explained Sykes. “We need to improve a little bit for tomorrow. We had a good pace but one thing to consider is that Ducati certainly seemed to have a good pace at the end of the race.


"I had clear track today and was able to use the bike in the best way possible. We need to bear this in mind for tomorrow because in a fight we need to gain and use the experience we have had in some of the races this year. Hopefully we don’t let it happen again where we get stuck in a battle and the bike works quite bad and we cannot make a good lap time.”

The differences between how his bike was working and Rea’s in race one were not large according to Sykes, but enough to leave him shadow boxing and not swapping paint in the last few laps. “I was not quite as settled on the front tyre today as Jonathan and we also missed out in a couple of accelerations. Nothing big but two or three tenths a lap - and after the first ten laps, that is enough.

"In turn one I would like to get in there a little bit sweeter in train braking but we are arriving a little bit on the limit from the front traction and then that disturbs the change of direction from two to three and three to four, so just small things like that. A couple of small areas which I think would make a big, big, step.”

It was very noticeable to the rest that it was a Kawasaki day, and at least some of that can go down to a recent test at Brno, which delivered much to the Kawasaki duo.

“We both had a good test in Brno, and I played around with a lot of set-up stuff on Friday here,” said Sykes. “Jonathan was off fast and I was not too far behind today but I think tomorrow Ducati look to have very strong pace.”

Sykes, unlike Rea, did not use his newly approved front brake cooling intakes in the first race, for the simple reason that his got smashed in practice as they hit the vertical rubber hoses that stick out of the slower chicanes at Imola, to prevent riders taking too much paint.

Kawasaki’s plastic scoops were made on a rapid prototyping 3D printer, after the intake ducts were given the OK for Imola and Donington recently.

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