AS Huddersfield race ace Tom Sykes prepares to make his World Superbike debut at Brands Hatch tomorrow, support has come from one of the highest sources.
Sheffield’s James Toseland says British fans should have more home heroes to support in the World Superbike (WSB) championship.
Rizla Suzuki rider Sykes, 22, of Fenay Bridge, has been handed a wild card entry and is keen to seize the opportunity to impress on the world stage.
And two-time World Superbike champion Toseland, who stepped into the Moto GP frame this season, is hoping more British riders are as keen as Sykes to impress in the World arena.
Despite years of British success in WSB, only Chris Walker is flying the flag this term and he joined his team mid-season, rather than from the start.
Toseland said: “British fans deserve a British rider.
“Carl Fogarty, Neil Hodgson and myself won seven WSB titles in 15 years, so to have no-one in the running is disappointing.
“We’ve got talent capable of coming here and putting on a good show, but that talent is inexperienced.
“The benchmark is BSB champion Ryuchi Kiyonari. He’s really struggled at WSB level this season, and that’s bad for the BSB guys who want to come up.
“Kiyonari is capable of racing at the front, but he needs to do it well to give the others a chance and to get the WSB teams to believe BSB guys can compete at this higher level.”
And with some of the biggest names on the grid like championship leader Troy Bayliss coming towards the end of their careers, Toseland believes this could be the ideal time for an infusion of fresh blood.
“The show is built around the stars,” he said.
“In WSB, people like Bayliss, Noriyuki Haga, Carlos Checa and others are all verging on retirement, so this is a critical point for the series.
“They need to get youngsters in so people can recognise them, follow them and keep coming to races to see the show.”
Over the years, many British riders, including Toseland – who has been forced to work hard in MotoGP this time around – came up through British Superbikes on their way to the World competition.
And Sykes, who broke his duck by winning both British Superbike races at Oulton Park a fortnight ago, has not hidden his desire to step up into World Superbikes if the right chance comes his way.