Tom Sykes heads to the 11th round of the 2011 World Superbike Championship at Imola keen to build on his tremendous maiden victory last time out at the Nurburgring.
Sykes returned Kawasaki to the winner's circle for the first time in five years after a faultless performance in heavy rain at the Nurburgring, though his celebrations were tempered with the revelation from team manager Paul Bird that neither he nor the PBM team would be retained for 2012.
Though Sykes has since gone on the record to refute the claims, insisting that talks are still ongoing, the Briton will seek to put the controversy behind him with another strong effort in Italy.
A return to the circuit where Sykes took pole position and two strong top six finishes aboard the previous generation ZX-10R, World Superbikes' newest race winner has high hopes for this year's event aboard the constantly improving new model.
“We had a great weekend in Germany and we could not have wished for anything else, so massive thanks to all my crew and Kawasaki,” he said. “To get that win under our belt was a fantastic feeling and we can build on that now. We went to Misano for a test last week and we were fastest in qualifying trim and joint second fastest on race tyres. So I am hoping that some of the information we had there would transfer to Imola for this weekend.
“Imola is very stop and start, narrow and not so much room for error. Hopefully we can be even stronger than last year and if that is the case we could well taste champagne again. We do not want to get carried away but we need to go there with our heads screwed on and build on the latest information we have from the Misano test.”
Since the previous round, Kawasaki has confirmed it is taking much of its development in-house for 2012, though it isn't clear whether it will still be fronted by a 'private' team and there was no confirmation of its riders.