Tom Sykes says he can be very satisfied with his results from the 2012 World Superbike Championship opener after fronting arguably Kawasaki's most competitive race weekend in several years at Phillip Island.
Though Sykes has achieved two pole positions and also victory at the Nurburgring during his Kawasaki tenure, each was achieved in inclement weather conditions, thus making his run to the front of the grid at a dry Phillip Island all the more satisfying.
Taking advantage to lead at the start of both races, though Sykes didn't have the measure of eventual winner Max Biaggi in race one, he hailed the step forward made by Kawasaki over the winter to enable him to maintain a consistent pace to the finish line.
“In race one I got a good start and over race distance I had been feeling really strong all week,” Sykes, who went on to finish fourth in the first race, said. “It was a very difficult race with the wind blowing me and the bike around but to be honest I had to use my head a bit and not get sucked into too much fighting.
“I was just trying to manage the gap behind, but to come away with a fourth, on a track like this, using the same tyres as the guys on the podium, is a bit of a first for us. It shows the progress Kawasaki has made over the winter. To take the podium on the last lap was really satisfying and the bike has been working really well in winter testing so big thanks to the team; they were very focused.”
Better was to come in race two, however, as Sykes not only lapped comfortably quicker to hold a provisional podium position for much of the race, but he even made gains in the final laps as he caught and passed Jonathan Rea's Honda.
Lifting him to third position at the chequered flag (after being passed by a charging Max Biaggi earlier on), the result marks Sykes's third podium at WSBK level and his first with Kawasaki in dry conditions.
“Race two was even windier than race one but my crew chief and team changed the balance of the bike and compensated for some things. For sure we arrived at the limit but we were able to maintain a consistent pace right to the end. I had a good fight with Max for a couple of laps and a few corners.
“So to come away with pole position, third and fourth in the races? I am over the moon, because this circuit has never been a strong one for us in the past.”
The podium is also Kawasaki's first in dry conditions since Fonsi Nieto achieved an identical result at Magny-Cours back in 2007.