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MMP's Five Questions with Tom Sykes

Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Miller Motorsports Park will again host the USA Round of the FIM Superbike World Championship on The BigM Weekend, May 26-28. As was the case last year, we will visit with race winners and other notable riders participating in the championship after each race during the 2012 season leading up to The BigM Weekend and bring you a new chapter in the “Five Questions with” series.

Tom Sykes: Pole position has come with mixed emotions because of some very bad news and first and foremost I want to pass on my condolences to the family and friends of Oscar McIntyre. As far as our on-track weekend has worked out so far  yesterday we just made sure things were right with the bike and pushed a bit more in this mornings qualifying session in cooler conditions.
Kawasaki Racing Team Rider Tom Sykes currently lies thrid overall in the 2012 World Superbike Championship.
The subject of our second installment of the season is 26-year-old Englishman Tom Sykes, who rides the No. 66 Kawasaki ZX-10R for the Kawasaki Racing Team. Tom worked his way up through the hyper-competitive ranks of British Supersport and British Superbike, using two World Superbike wildcard rides at Brands Hatch and Donington Park in 2008 to get noticed. He was teammate to American Ben Spies at Yamaha Motor Italia in 2009, and moved to Kawasaki with Paul Bird Motorsport in 2010. He has stayed with Kawasaki since, now riding for the Kawasaki Racing Team. He claimed his first series win last year at the Nurburgring and has been the surprise of 2012 thus far, claiming pole at both rounds and posting two second-place finishes, a third and a fourth. He currently lies third in the championship.

1. Last season, you earned one pole and a single podium; a victory at the Nurburgring. Overall, though, your results were up and down. This year, after just two rounds, you’ve already had two poles and, in four races, two seconds, a third and a fourth, and you're third in the championship points. In what areas has the Kawasaki ZX-10R evolved since last season that have enabled you to be quick in testing and, thus far, consistently qualify at the front of the grid and race for wins? (Matthew Miles, Cycle World)

We have made improvements in just about every area of the bike…especially the general balance of the bike. All of these small changes have made a big improvement and it has enabled me to have a better feeling, so I can be stronger over race distance so I can ride on the limit more safely.

2. What are the strong points and the areas with room to improve on your Kawasaki ZX-10R? (David Swarts, Roadracing World)

Tom Sykes earns his second SBK pole position of 2012 in record-setting fashion  the Kawasaki Racing Team rider winning Superpole at Imola.
Tom Sykes earns his second SBK pole position of 2012 in record-setting fashion, the Kawasaki Racing Team rider winning Superpole at Imola.
I would say I can get it stopped well and out of the corner well, but this is also something that I do on most bikes. The ZX-10R is definitely good in these areas but we need to make some small improvements to other areas, such as front feeling/traction. Overall I would say we now have a good base setting with the Kawasaki.

3. The Ducati seems to have better tire life at the end of the race. What do you see this as a function of? And is there anything your team can do to make the tires last longer on the Kawasaki? (Henny Ray Abrams, Cycle News)

Yes, the V-configuration engines have always been easier on the tire life, but Kawasaki have done a great job and we have definitely closed the gap to our competitors. General set-up of our bike has helped a lot with the tire life. I’m sure we can keep working in this area, and it is something we aim to improve.

4. Tom, you were teamed with American Ben Spies the season he won the Superbike World Championship. Both of you came to that team as relative unknowns. Do you have any good stories from that time? Please share. (Dean Adams, Superbike Planet)

Unfortunately I have nothing over-exciting to share with you. Ben normally kept himself to himself, and so I never really got to know him well. His chief mechanic, on the other hand, was a different story…“BIRD SONG”…classic!!

5. Tom, you’ve raced at Miller Motorsports Park since 2009, with a best result of sixth in Race 1 last year. What are your impressions of Miller Motorsports Park? Is there a particular part of the track that you like or excel in, and how do you think you’ll do with the Kawasaki this year? (Miller Motorsports Park)

To be honest, I love coming to Salt Lake City. This is a beautiful part of the world, and it’s really relaxing strolling through the city. The circuit is also good, and has some fantastic views. For me, I really enjoy the series of bends in turns 1, 2, 3 and 4, and these are really rewarding when you get them perfect. I’m looking forward to trying them on the improved ZX-10R.
The May 28-30 BigM Weekend at Miller Motorsports Park will include the USA Round of the FIM Superbike World Championship, plus support races from AMA Pro Road Racing including the National Guard American SuperBike Championship, the GoPro Daytona SportBike Championship, the Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport Championship and the Vance & Hines XR1200 Championship, as well as the second annual DRIFT BigM Superbike Super Celebrity Mega Kart Showdown. There will also be live music throughout the weekend and a major tribute to our armed forces in recognition of Memorial Day.

To obtain tickets for or information about The BigM Weekend, or for information regarding Miller Motorsports Park, call 435-277-RACE (7223) or visit the track’s website at www.MillerMotorsportsPark.com.
2012 World Superbike Season Gallery
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World Superbike Racer Bios
Tom Sykes
Tom Sykes earned his first World Superbike championship title in 2013 and he returns with Kawasaki in 2014 to try for the top-spot once again. Read more on the Tom Sykes bio page.
Leon Haslam
Son of the legendary Ron Haslam, Leon Haslam is poised to make his own mark on motorcycle racing history as a leading contender for the World Superbike Championship. Read more on the Leon Haslam bio page for career highlights, pictures, and news.
Eugene Laverty
Following a successful stint in World Supersport which included back-to-back runner-up finishes, Eugene Laverty is quickly building a reputation in the premier world championship. Learn more about the Irishman on the Eugene Laverty bio page.

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