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Q&A: Tom Sykes

23 April 2008

Tom Sykes experienced an action-packed debut for Rizla Suzuki at Thruxton last weekend, bouncing back from two heavy falls - one of which stopped race two - to take the lead at the restart, before tyre problems saw him slide backwards through the pack.

Sykes eventually finished sixth and eighth, from twelfth on the grid, to hold an early fifth in the 2008 BSB standings...


Q:
Tell us about your day...

Tom Sykes:
I had a good start form the third row of the grid in race one and almost passed Shane Byrne, who was on pole, so the starting of the bike is fantastic. We learnt a couple of things in that race and made some changes for race two.

I got another fantastic start in race two and was lying third or fourth, just settling in really. I was able to put the bike where I wanted to. I was settling into a rhythm and feeling strong.

Q:
And then 'something' happened...

Tom Sykes:
It was a bit unexpected. I was battling with Haslam. He'd just taken Harris off the track. I'd made the most of that and gained two positions. He came underneath me at the complex. I passed him back and then he passed me back. He had the inside line - and that's fair enough, I let him have that - but he just pulled across my nose to get a good run on the exit.

I wasn't really expecting it because he knew I was there. Obviously I had nowhere to go. I closed the throttle but it was too late; I caught my front wheel on his rear wheel and down I went. Unfortunately I took Karl Harris down with me. It's a shame and it destroyed the bike.

Q:
Were you injured at all?

Tom Sykes:
I took a knock to my eye and chin. My chin is big enough and it's even bigger now!

Q:
How did you feel about the second race after that?

Tom Sykes:
I had to use the spare bike so a couple of things that weren't identical engine wise. That was no problem, I was able to ride around that and got another good start, but when I tried to make a break I knew straight away that the rear tyre had no performance at all.

The bike started to develop heavy chatter due to the rubber missing from the tyre and unfortunately it spoilt the day. After all the changes, hard work and bumps and knocks I'd taken, to have your day spoilt by something as simple as that is a bit heartbreaking - not just for myself but the whole Rizla Suzuki team.

Q:
What was the secret to your starts?

Tom Sykes:
Obviously we've got a good system on the bike. I wouldn't call it launch control; it's a bit of a rider aid if you like. I can do it without [using the system] as well, but it's something less for me to think about.

Just being on the ball and really focussing is very important. Coming from the third row to the front row at the first corner is a big gain and I made the most of it.

Q:
And are you looking forward to Oulton Park?

Tom Sykes:
For sure I won't let this get me down. We've only had two races. There's a long way to go and we know what to do with the bike. The Rizla Suzuki has got good legs on it - the engine is really strong - so now it's just a matter of fine tweaking it and curing the minor problems that were slowing me down a bit.


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