Tom Sykes was a mostly happy man at the end of his World Superbike debut at Brands Hatch after showing podium winning potential, even if the results failed to back it up.

Coming away with a seventh place finish, the fact Sykes has shown top ten pace all weekend on the Rizla Suzuki that was kept in its existing British Superbike specification, was testament to the impression he made in the paddock.

Even so, it could have been so much better for 'The Grinner' after running as high as third in the first race as he diced with the likes of Troy Bayliss, Ryuichi Kiyonari. Troy Corser and Max Biaggi.

However, it was Biaggi that would signal his undoing when he inadvertently kicked up some stones on the first lap that would punch a whole in the radiator of Sykes' bike.

Although Sykes was aware of the damage almost straight away, he forged on, getting up to third place when the hole finally caused the engine to overheat, much to his visible frustration.

"I got a decent start, but going onto the back straight I was following Biaggi and there is a slight kink, so he ran onto the clear part of the track and flicked up a couple of stones," he told Radio. "I knew we were in trouble because they were two massive stones and you don't get away lightly from something like that.

"It was frustrating because even with an overheating engine, we were still competitive. I passed Biaggi and Corser to put me in third and I was confident of pulling ahead and catching the leaders."

Going some way to make amends in the second race, Sykes was nonetheless slightly disappointed to lose pace in the latter stages, although he was satisfied with a more than respectable seventh on his debut.

"I am not completely happy, although I am glad that everyone else seems to be. I want to thank the team for doing a great job and seventh place really isn't a bad effort. We seemed to miss out on not doing a full race distance in race one to give us the necessary information.

"We were lying in fourth place but we were struggling with the tyres and the understanding of the bike, but I think I have proved this weekend that I can run with the frontrunners in World Superbike. We just need to tune the bike to be stronger in the last few laps."


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