Tom Sykes took his best race finish of the 2011 World Superbike season with sixth place in race one of Monday's Miller Motorsport Park round in the USA.

The factory Kawasaki rider, who had qualified tenth on the grid, then followed it up with a hard-fought tenth in the second race, after getting the better of 2011 race winner Jonathan Rea.

"Sixth in race one was a positive result and a real improvement on last year's efforts here," said Sykes, who recorded 13th and a DNF in the 2010 round. "We were strong at the end of the race and set my best lap time three laps from the end.

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"In the second race we did not make any real set-up changes and I had a lot better launch in race two but unfortunately I got boxed in on turn one. The whole race was faster than race one but I ended up in a bit of a dice with Jonathan Rea and that allowed Ayrton Badovini to catch and pass me.

"I am confident we can go away and make more progress and I really want to thank all the team and Kawasaki. We worked together even tighter as a team and that showed through the weekend."

Sixth is Kawasaki's best race result since Joan Lascorz took fifth at Donington Park. The WSBK rookie qualified just 17th at Miller, but at least scored points in both races with 14th and 12th respectively.

"I think I just need to keep understanding the bike a bit better to make the most of its potential," said the Spaniard. "The second race set-up was better. I used the same rear tyre in each race but different front tyres to make different settings and race two was much better. I think if I had had a better grid position and made good starts we could have been inside the middle of the top ten, maybe."

Injured team-mate Chris Vermeulen missed the race and will instead test at Aragon.