HUDDERSFIELD Racer Tom Sykes is finding that his exploits last season have won him a whole new fan base.
The 27-year-old may have been pipped for the World Superbike Championship title by half a point this season by Italian rider Max Biaggi, but that didn’t stop Sykes proving a big hit in Milan.
With testing for the 2013 season now on hold until January, Sykes has joined Kawasaki Racing Team World Superbikes colleague Loris Baz and Kawasaki’s 2012 World Supersport champion Kenan Sofuoglu, at a number of the shows and exhibitions around Europe.
For Sykes it has brought trips to the EICMA show in Milan and two visits to the Motorcycle Live show at the NEC in Birmingham.
And Sykes has found that he has moved from being ‘merely’ a top World Superbikes rider to an international superstar after his close run for the championship title.
Sykes said: “I was at the EICMA Show in Milan and the Kawasaki stand was very busy there.
“We got a lot of attention, which was nice to see.
“I enjoyed the day and spent a lot of time doing autograph signings at the show.
“I was very flattered by the amount of Italian fans that I had – it was awesome to be honest.
“I also did the NEC show in the UK at Birmingham, not once but twice, and also a Kawasaki Riders’ Club session at the NEC.”
And Sykes welcomed the fact that fans were taking so much interest in his exploits last season and his chances in 2013 – enhanced somewhat by the retirement of Biaggi at the end of the season.
“The Kawasaki Riders’ Club night was really good because the fans got the chance to ask us all – Loris, Chris Walker, Danny Buchan, all those guys – some questions one by one,” said Sykes.
“It was good fun and it went on for a long time, to the point that much longer and I would have stayed the night, but they would have locked us in at the NEC!
“It was really relaxed and I hope it gave the club members something a bit extra.
“It was good to meet the fans away from racing too.”