TOP Huddersfield racers Tom Sykes and Tom Tunstall are geared up to take this season’s British Superbike Championship by storm.
The chase for the country’s premier motorcycle racing crown begins this weekend at the demanding Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit in Kent.
Sykes, 22, from Lepton, was named ‘rookie of the year’ after finishing a solid sixth in his debut season when racing for Paul Bird’s Stobart Vent Axia Honda team.
And Denby Dale’s Tunstall, 29, manager and rider of his own team, Hardinge Ice Valley Honda, finished third in the Superbike Cup – a race within the main Superbike race for privateers – which was also his debut season.
This time, however, the duo are eager to shrug off the ‘rookie’ tag and get down to business.
Sykes will be donning the vivid blue colours of Rizla Suzuki and is joined by two-times Japanese Superbike Champion Atsushi Watanabe.
Sykes has been impressing team manager Jack Valentine with his lap times during winter testing in Spain and the team look set to be right up there challenging with the Hondas for race supremacy.
Sykes said: “It’s going to an exciting season and extremely competitive.
“It was nice for the CV to get the rookie of the year title and this year I want to carry on where I left off – getting on the podium and getting a few wins under my belt.”
Sykes, who missed out on a race win last season by less than a tenth of a second, added: “I gelled with the bike straight away and went quicker on it than ever before. It’s a great team and with factory support, it means we can get parts and support quicker, so we can be consistently competitive.”
Tunstall said: “While we don’t have the resources of a factory team (there are only five staff, including rider Tom) I’m aiming for no less than the Cup Championship.
“The new control tyre should make for a more level playing field and I’ll be starting the season on last year’s bike, with the 2008 Honda due to be ready next month, so consistency won’t be aproblem.
“Everything was brand new to us last year, from procedures at the circuits to racing the higher-powered bike itself, and the experience all bodes well for us to have a stronger, more competitive campaign this time, and to get in and among and ruffle a few of the the factory boys a bit.”