ELATED Tom Sykes won his maiden and second Bennetts British Superbike victories and claimed: “This is something else!”
The Fenay Bridge-based race ace produced the show of his life to claim an emotional double in the seventh round at Oulton Park, Cheshire.
And the results launched him up to third in the Championship as he looks to further impress when he heads to his wild-card appearance at the Brands Hatch World Superbike Championship event next up on August 1-3.
Starting from third on the grid in the opening race, the 22-year-old led from lap seven and never looked back, claiming a long overdue victory by a dominant five seconds ahead of James Ellison (Hydrex Bike Animal Honda) with series leader and Sykes’ former Stobart Honda teammate Shane Byrne (Airwaves Ducati) third, despite admitting to nerves as the laps ticked down and heavy clouds menaced the 2.69-mile circuit.
“I was both delighted and relieved,” said Sykes. “It was a tough race as there was a lot to think about with the track conditions, but with about 10 laps to go I started to think, ‘This is it!’ so I had to work hard and keep concentrating keeping the bike on line and bringing it back okay.
“I went back to the motorhome and it didn’t really sink in. I didn’t really know what to do.
“In between races I knew I had to perform in the second one so I was really psyched up.”
In race two Sykes took the lead on lap two and maintained a slim advantage under enormous pressure from pole-sitter Cal Crutchlow (HM Plant Honda) and Byrne, to the chequered flag, riding with impressive composure and speed as he capped the day by setting the fastest lap in both races to give Suzuki their first winning double in the series since John Reynolds’ success at the Cheshire circuit in 2004.
After Sykes’ race two victory – by a toe-curling margin of 0.097secs – he said: “This is something else, something special – a bit like waiting for the Number 10 bus to come along – then two come together.
“I didn’t really feel the pressure in that second race. When I came up over Clay Hill halfway through the second race I actually thought about it and how relaxed I was feeling.
“I actually found it quite easy to lead from the front with them all queued up behind.”
Jubilant team boss Jack Valentine added: “Brilliant, ace, mega, fantastic, awesome – any of those will describe Tom’s double win, take your pick.
“Well done to the team and Tom on a fairy-tale performance, it is thoroughly deserved and well earned.
“I think now we have established Tom and the Rizla Suzuki GSX-R1000 as race winners, there will be more to come.”
Now, hot on the heels of his maiden win, confident Sykes will be hoping for further big things on the World Superbike stage.
He has the benefit of track knowledge and knows his bike works well on the arduous 2.3-mile GP circuit.
He said: “Brands Hatch WSB is next and my debut at that level of racing. The circuit produces a great atmosphere and there are so many fans there which makes it such a massive event.
“My Rizla Suzuki is as good as any Superbike in the world and I can’t wait to rub shoulders with Bayliss, Haga and Kagayama. They need to look out, I’m going for the podium.”
Denby Dale privateer Tom Tunstall earns yet another podium place. See pictures and report tomorrow.