TOM SYKES’ debut year in the World Superbikes was not the fairytale many predicted – but after surrounding himself with familiar faces the Huddersfield rider insists 2010 will be a different proposition.
The 24-year-old arrived in the World Superbike paddock hotly tipped to be among the front-runners having claimed a second place finish as a wildcard at Donington Park in the 2008 season.
But while Yamaha WSB teammate Ben Spies marched to the title, Sykes spent much of the season labouring in the chasing pack – ending ninth overall with his best finish a fourth at Assen in round four.
Sykes’ under-par debut season meant he was not retained by the Yamaha team with fellow Brits Cal Crutchlow and double world champion James Toseland taking his place.
But Sykes has been handed a second bite of the cherry after securing a ride for the Paul Bird Motorsport team, with whom he raced during the 2007 British Superbike season.
And with old friends at every corner of his garage the Huddersfield ace only has eyes for the podium this year.
“The big factor for me in joining the team is that I have worked before and so I know a few of the people and that should hopefully really help me to be racing well right from the start of the season,” said Sykes.
“I know how good a team they are and I know what they can do so that should really help me to have a good year.
“They are definitely one of the best teams I have ridden for and so I am feeling really confident about the year ahead and hopefully I can be up there challenging. I have the same crew chief as I had in my rookie season in BSB so that should be a big help too and hopefully I can just be riding well from the first round.”
Sykes heads to round one at Phillip Island this weekend fresh from two warm-up tests in Portimao, Portugal and at the Australian track that will host the season opener.
And while admitting he is far from the polished article – Sykes has been outside the top 10 in both tests so far – the Huddersfield ace insists he is wiser for his 2009 experience.
“I learned a lot last year and hopefully I can use that experience this year to have a good season,” added Sykes. “I am confident the bike will be competitive and I have a lot more experience than the start of last year so it’s looking good.”
All Superbike World Championship races will be broadcast on British Eurosport, with the European rounds also available in High Definition. British Eurosport Sky 410 and Virgin Media 521, Eurosport HD Sky 412.