Tom Sykes has reflected that his encouraging form and top five finish at Monza last weekend have given him 'a boost' ahead of this weekend's 2010 World Superbike Championship outing at Kyalami – where he and Kawasaki will be bidding to 'continue our consistency and maintain the level of results from the previous few races'.
From an improved eighth on the grid, Sykes took the chequered flag ninth in race one in Italy and fifth in race two – comfortably his best results of the campaign to-date. Now, the British star clearly intends to maintain that strong momentum as he attacks the hills and bumps of the intense, high-altitude South African circuit just outside Johannesburg and where this time last year, the Yorkshireman similarly notched up a double top ten.
“I'm really looking forward to this weekend at Kyalami,” enthused the 24-year-old, now up to 14th in the title standings, “as it's coming straight off the back of a good weekend at Monza. That gave the team and myself a big boost in time for the busy part of the race calendar. We have been making steady progress over the past few races, and we were over-the-moon to come away with a top five and top ten finish in the last round.
“The Kawasaki appeared to do fairly well here last year with Sheridan Morais and Broc Parkes, so I'm looking forward to jumping on the bike again and facing the challenge of this old-school circuit. The key now is to continue our consistency and maintain the level of results from the previous few races.”
Team-mate Chris Vermeulen, by contrast, last competed at Kyalami back in his Supersport days, and is therefore on an early mission to re-acquaint himself with its punishing and relentlessly physical layout, characterised by repeated changes of elevation and as such a real test for both man and machine. The Australian is still recuperating from a serious injury to his right knee suffered at Phillip Island in February, as he rides through the pain barrier in his quest to regain full competitiveness at the earliest opportunity.
“After my return at Assen I was determined to make up some ground,” revealed the 27-year-old Brisbane native, “but unfortunately my knee is still not 100 per cent and I found it more difficult at Monza than I would have liked. I'm continuing to work hard on rehabilitation and physiotherapy and I am certain that the more I ride, the more movement I will get back in the knee.
“I have high expectations of myself, but I have to be patient and work away at getting back to the platform where I think we are at. I have raced at Kyalami before in World Supersport, but I can honestly say that I don't have much of a memory of being there! I will more-or-less treat this as a new track and hope that I can bounce back to consistent points-scoring finishes.”