Kawasaki's Tom Sykes heads for round two of the 2012 World Superbike season at Imola this weekend third in the standings and in the best form of his world championship career.
Pole and 4-3 race results at the Phillip Island season opener was followed by a record breaking pace - that caught the attention of Aprilia's world championship leader Max Biaggi - in private testing at Aragon.
The Englishman also has encouraging past form at Imola, starting on pole for the last two years and claiming a fourth place on each occasion.
“We improved the bike at the recent Aragon tests particularly the front end feedback and traction, which I hope we can take onwards to Imola,” said Sykes. “To be honest I am looking forward to it partly because in the past two seasons I have gone well on the Kawasaki but I am hoping to do even better. That will be my plan for race weekend.
“We have changed the balance of the bike quite a lot in the past few months so a big part of me is thinking that we should be a bit better even at the start of practice. I am confident that it will work out from the start, but there is always a chance that we will have an extra bit of set-up work to do.
“I am very much looking forward to Imola, based on the results we had in Australia and in recent tests at Aragon.”
Team-mate Joan Lascorz will be looking to regain points lost during a race two fall at Phillip Island.
“The best thing about the test at Motorland was that was we found a good base for the bike,” said the Spaniard. “We confirmed that we took some wrong steps in Australia and we double-checked that in Motorland. I had the opportunity to ride with very balanced bike in that test and I am exciting to go to Imola and see how the bike goes when we get there.
“All the technical staff work with high motivation and for sure KHI is doing a lot of work. I think in myself, in my overall condition, I'm much better than last year and hope that soon I can demonstrate that in the results. This is my second year in SBK but for me last year we only saw 50% of Lascorz, because my Silverstone crash in 2010 affected all of my 2011 season.
“I hope to show in 2012 what Kawasaki expected from me when they signed me for two years in 2010.”
A post-race Pirelli tyre test will be held at Imola on Monday.