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WSBK Aragon 2013 EXCLUSIVE: Tom Sykes Q&A

13 April 2013

By Neil Morrison

Yorkshire's Tom Sykes starts the European campaign fighting fit after he broke his left wrist and cracked three ribs during a testing crash at Phillip Island. He soldiered through the pain, and despite claiming he was 80% sure he wouldn't be able to ride, claimed two strong fifth place finishes. It is no secret that he and the Kawasaki effort are aiming for the championship this year and Crash.net caught up with Tom on Friday evening to talk about the weekend and season ahead.

Crash.net:
Tom, How's the wrist?

Tom Sykes:
Honestly the wrist is much better than in Australia. The main problem there was three broken ribs. To manage the bike over race distance, the ribs caused a lot of problems with my breathing. They are good now though. The wrist is ok, some pain in some positions but I'm happy. I still tape the wrist to help support it, but other than that I'm good to go. I'm missing a little bit of strength in my left arm and shoulder but nothing to concern myself with too much.

Crash.net:
Phillip Island must have been a daunting place to ride with cracked ribs….

Tom Sykes:
I was happy they had resurfaced it, through some left-handers my chest was resting on the fuel tank and there was some discomfort. One year ago the track was a lot bumpier so I was happy they decided to resurface it.

Crash.net:
Have you had a lot of issues training and getting your fitness back since then?

Tom Sykes:
It knocked the training and I've only been able to cycle. Honestly with the ribs I wasn't able to lift anything. We had a test last week which woke up the wrist but that was it. After the test I had an x-ray and things were looking good. A bit of strength activity has been introduced since then and now and it seems to be going good. I'm happy with the progress.

Crash.net:
You and the Kawasaki team tested here two weeks ago. Did Kawasaki bring any new components to test?

Tom Sykes:
The test was good. We are working towards championship and Kawasaki brought new parts and different components, as did Showa. It was very valuable with a lot of info. I'm working with some fantastic people and we keep making small steps forward.

Crash.net:
You finished both sessions on Friday in third position, not far behind Eugene Laverty in first. Are you content with that?

Tom Sykes:
I'm very happy. We were quite relaxed to be honest. There were a few things to try with tyres and other things. I'm quite relaxed and it's nice to be riding with some good temperatures and I'm happy overall.

Crash.net:
Last year at Aragon was probably your worst round of the year…

Tom Sykes:
It wasn't very good. We were 3rd on the last lap of race one and I was taken out by another rider. I lost a potential podium finish and it destroyed the bike. All the guys worked flat out and when the bikes were released to the grid we were still working on it. Unfortunately in race two we didn't have the ideal package. Hopefully we'll have a different package on Sunday.

Crash.net:
Looking at the testing times from last week, your fastest time was a 1min 57secs. Today the fastest guys were over a second slower. Is there more to come from the Kawasaki?

Tom Sykes:
It would be nice to think there is more to come. Last week was cooler and all things considered when the track is cooler with the tyres we're a little faster. I'm certainly quite happy about today and relaxed.

Crash.net:
Last year you and the Kawasaki surprised most people with your championship challenge. With higher expectations this year do you feel a bit more pressure?

Tom Sykes:
All I can do is the best I can. Last year we caught people by surprise. We went from 13th in the championship in 2011 to second so myself and Kawasaki are happy. It's humbling, I've made a lot of sacrifices to get myself in this position, at this top level. So when the good moments come I'll enjoy it while it lasts and I hope it'll last for a long time.

Crash.net:
What goals have you and the team set for 2013?

Tom Sykes:
I do set myself goals but I won't go into detail how I set those. I have expectations of where I want to be and the team have expectations of where they'd like to be but we all have a good understanding. I know the team will try their hardest and they know I'll do the same. It's a nice environment in the garage. Sometimes we get dealt some bad cards and it's down to us to manage this in the best possible way. Luckily I've got some good guys fighting my corner.

Crash.net:
You mention there being a nice environment in the team. What's it like sharing the garage with young Loris?

Tom Sykes:
I'd like to think I'm quite easy going. Loris is young and excited and it's great for him to have the opportunity to work with a factory team in Superbikes. It's his job to make the most of it. He's learning and getting faster. I'm not sure if Aragon is his favourite circuit, but I'm sure we'll see him have some good rides this year.

Crash.net:
One of the Aragon circuit's defining features is the long back straight. Everyone seems to be struggling to match the speed of the factory Aprilias. Do you have a plan to deal with this?

Tom Sykes:
I play it by ear and have a back-up plan. It's a shame but Kawasaki are working hard and we have made a few steps forward. It's clear the other manufacturers have a straight-line advantage. I give away two-tenths on the straight and it's frustrating, you gain two-tenths on the corners and then lose it again on the straights. That's the way the cookie crumbles though. It's our job to deal with those cards we've been dealt.

Crash.net:
And finally Tom, can you see yourself on the podium on Sunday?

Tom Sykes:
I have expectations of all the rounds and it would be nice to taste champagne at most of them. There are some strong riders but hopefully at the end of the 20 laps on Sunday we'll be one of the strongest, if not the strongest.


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