World Superbikes champion Tom Sykes is happy that competition is hot for the 2014 championship as he remained top of the rankings after the third round at Assen.

The 28-year-old Huddersfield racer managed a podium second place finish in race one but had to settle for fourth in race two at a rain lashed Dutch circuit.

In the first race Sykes and his Kawasaki racing Team colleague Loris Baz were always part of the top four battle, with Sykes chasing early leader and eventual race winner Sylvain Guintoli in patchy track conditions which led to the race being finished five laps early.

Sykes had to drop back for a time when he ran wide and he had to re-pass Baz and Jonathan Rea in his fight back to second place.

Sykes was well on his way to catching Guintoli until a red flag came out to stop the race because of an oil spill.

Called as a result after 16 of the planned 21-laps Sykes was ranked second and Baz fourth, the young French rider only 4.459 seconds from the race winner Guintoli.

A ten lap second race was much delayed because of rain as the riders were about to start, with the first attempted running only lasting three laps.

Two hours after the scheduled start a fully wet race two put early race leader Sykes in fourth place at the flag, with teammate Baz seventh.

In the championship Sykes leads with 108 points, ahead of Guintoli on 96 and Baz third on 93.

 

“Sylvain (Guintoli) was definitely setting a good pace at the beginning of race one and I tried to get back to him in the early part of the race,” said Sykes.

“I caught a little bit of damp track surface on the brakes and the rear end came around. I had to run off the track but I left myself with a lot of work to do.

“The Ninja ZX-10R was working well and I know I could have got a lot closer to Sylvain but passing is another thing.

“I was happy enough with second in that race and race two was held in very greasy conditions and we had made a small alteration to the ZX-10R set-up and it probably wasn’t the best change.

“The good thing is that we are a lot closer than we used to be and I am sure we could have been even closer knowing now what we did not know at the start of the second race.

“For that reason I am happy and the guys closest to me in the championship had a bit of a bad race, so fourth was not too bad.”

The championship now moves on to the fourth round at Imola’s Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari on May 11, before Sykes’ ‘home’ outing at Donington Park on May 25.

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