Paul Bird has confirmed that Tom Sykes will continue with the Paul Bird Motorsport team in 2011, though it remains unclear what form this new deal will take.
Sykes's stock as a WSBK rider has increased dramatically in recent weeks following an outstanding end to the season on the outgoing Kawasaki ZX-10R, most notably his pole position and race lead turns at Imola.
However, with Chris Vermeulen staying for a second season, once he returns from injury, and Joan Lascorz almost certain to graduate to World Superbikes too, Sykes's role with the manufacturer has been subject to speculation.
Nonetheless, Paul Bird has confirmed he will remain with the outfit into 2011, though it isn't clear whether he will stay where he is in a two-bike team, ride a third factory Kawasaki ZX-10R, or perhaps be given a full-specification machine under a satellite banner.
“The team has been in negotiations with Tom Sykes for the past couple of weeks and I'm delighted to announce that he will remain contracted to the Paul Bird Motorsport for 2011," said Bird. "Tom has done an outstanding job for Kawasaki this year and he is a big part of the Teams future in World Superbikes.
“We have a busy test schedule planned over the winter and we look forward to returning to the World Superbike Championship next year to be as competitive as we possibly can.”
Sykes - who ended the season 14th overall - will be charged with leading development of the new ZX-10R in Vermeulen and Lascorz's – who is also injured – absence.
Kawasaki will announce full details of its 2011 programme this week.