Tom Sykes says he is 'proud' to have been given the chance to join Kawasaki's World Superbike effort for 2010 as both rider and manufacturer look to establish themselves as a competitive force ahead of the new season.
The Yorkshireman has found refuge with the Japanese manufacturer for his second season in the top flight this year after a mixed maiden year with champions Yamaha didn't yield an extended contract.
In doing so, Sykes has been reunited with Paul Bird Motorsport three years after he last competed for them in the British Superbike Championship, the 24-year-old finishing inside the top seven in all but the three races he failed to finish, while his five podiums helped him secure sixth in the overall standings.
Looking ahead to the new World Superbike season, while Sykes admits there is still work to be done to ensure the ZX-10R is competitive, he insists there is more potential in the package than has been indicative in testing.
“I am feeling confident,” he told Crash.net
. “We have got lots of work to do and we've started that in the Phillip Island test. We are making a lot progress and overall I am happy with every single team member – the whole team itself is quite advanced and I'm proud to be part of it.
“Birdy, in the past, has run a very tight ship and I had a fantastic season in British Superbikes with them. We just need to keep our heads down and progress. I see more potential in the package than where we are now, so the aim is to achieve the maximum we all can.”
Sykes' switch to Kawasaki comes after he wasn't retained by Yamaha in 2010, despite finishing inside the top ten overall at the end of the year.
Indeed, while he understands why Yamaha took the opportunity to focus on title-winning team-mate Ben Spies, Sykes remains '100 per cent' certain in his ability at world championship level.
“My season should have been better,” he added. “Various scenarios and things that went on stopped me from being where I wanted to be. I still believe that if I had everything in place for myself and the bike, then we could have achieved a lot of podiums together and finished higher up the field.
“I was confident to do more than I did, and my mind hasn't changed. I'm big enough to accept if I was struggling and couldn't do it, but I 100 per cent know if I had received all of the team's backing, I could have achieved more.”