Kawasaki's Tom Sykes said that he had arrived at the Magny-Cours WorldSBK round with a slightly clearer head than he has had had for some time, after some issues in his personal life.
He was fast all weekend, having largely recovered from a sports injury in the summer break, and in Superpole he even overhauled a seemingly unbeatable time from eventual race one winner, Jonathan Rea for a new track best of 1’35.696.
Sykes was 3.091 seconds from Rea in race one, which was both close and not so close to the win for Sykes. “Yes and no. I got a good start and all weekend the set up has been quite strong, I was ready to push in the race but I really suffered on edge grip on three corners. I tried to make it up in another couple of areas, and pushing the front. Jonathan’s pace was very consistent. I am disappointed for this but on the other hand we also put a big gap to the guys behind. On Sunday we need to try and fix this. My target is to try and come from the third row and try to be strong to fight for the win. That is the clear target. It is nice to be consistently at the sharp end all weekend.”
The question, sometimes often the question, is how Sykes can set those kind of pole times but not win the race. This was especially asked after his amazing pole performance.
“There were just a couple of areas where I suffered on the edge grip, and get the bike turned, so over race distance that proved the problem,” said Sykes about this race in particular. “Even my best lap of the race was kind of equal to the best lap Jonathan made in the race (1’37.152 Rea and 1’37.180 Sykes). Fundamentally the package is there but we just need to fine-tune this edge grip issue that I feel we will improve for tomorrow. We will try and go one better and that is all I can say. Today was clearly all about Jonathan and what a way to cap-off his championship, by winning the race. Real congratulations to him. Four consecutive world titles, it is an unbelievable achievement and I am sure he will be happy for this.”
Sykes was asked in the post race interviews if he regretted any decision he made in the summer about his future, given how fast the Kawasakis were in the first Magny Cours race - and he was quick to answer.
“I did not make any decisions, so probably let’s be clear on that,” said Sykes. “The only thing I regret is probably what has happened in my personal life it does affect what you do. I am not sitting behind a desk on a standard nine to five job. I am a professional sportsman and if you have big issues in your life sometimes it takes the edge off your performance. Finally it is this that has caused me problems over the last 18 months. I will come back and I always try to learn from my mistakes. It is an ongoing battle but there is still a long way to go. I have a fraction of a percent clear in my head.”