Tom Sykes says he is determined to prove he belongs in the World Superbike Championship after losing his ride with champions Yamaha and joining Kawasaki.
Sykes landed a plum deal with title contenders Yamaha on the back of a handful of eye-catching wild-card rides on his BSB-specification Suzuki in 2008, but while he started the season well, a dip in form towards the end of the year prevented him from reaching the podium.
When Yamaha went on to sign James Toseland and Cal Crutchlow for the 2010 World Superbike Championship, Sykes looked set for a return to the British championship.
Nonetheless, Sykes will instead remain a manufacturer-backed rider in 2010 after being signed by the Paul Bird Motorsport-run Kawasaki team. A lifeline he is desperate to capitalise on, Sykes is delighted at not having to step back.
"I think that [staying in WSBK] was very important really,” he said. “I think there was no reason why I could not have got into a good team in the UK and got all the results needed to win the championship, but I had only had one year in SBK and I wanted to stay in it for several years."
Sykes, who will be joined in the team by former MotoGP rider Chris Vermeulen, has already tested the ZX-10R, although his time on the bike was hampered by a shoulder injury sustained towards the end of the season.
Despite this, Sykes sees potential in the package and is confident there is plenty more speed to come from it.
"I am very happy to be with Kawasaki and Paul Bird and I hope we can help to turn their fortunes around now. We are getting an understanding of what is required now and we have got in some good winter testing.
“There are some key areas of the bike that I am very happy with and a couple of areas where I feel we can improve, but that is the same story in every case. In one test recently I made a couple of slight little changes to the bike and ended going a couple of seconds a lap faster, a very short time later.
“The bike has a lot of potential and I am looking forward to doing a bit more testing and then going racing."