Tom Sykes leaves the second round of the 2012 World Superbike Championship just six points adrift of the series lead after another excellent weekend at Imola.
Consolidating his impressive showing during the season opener at Phillip Island, Sykes enjoyed arguably the finest weekend of his ascending WSBK career as he emerged with a second consecutive pole position, two second place finishes and a new Imola lap record
Indeed, Sykes led the majority of both races and though he concedes he didn't have the pace to hold a charging Carlos Checa at bay during the closing stages, he was otherwise delighted to spurn the attentions of Leon Haslam and Max Biaggi for second place.
“The plan was to get a good start in race one and we had a very clean launch in the Kawasaki. In the first nine laps or so it was just Carlos and I and saw there was a big gap behind us.
“Carlos rode a great race, hats off to him, and he knew exactly what he was doing. In race two I had a lot of pressure from Leon and Biaggi certainly in the last third of the race so I was forced to dig a little bit deep and it paid off.
“I heard Leon's engine there for a few laps but I found I had a little bit of a gap on the last lap so second position was good. Overall I think it has been a very good weekend for myself and Kawasaki. The Ninja ZX-10R has been great again - pole position, and two seconds in the races - so I do not think we could ask for much more.”
Indicative of the progress Sykes and Kawasaki have made since its operation was assumed by the Provec operation, the result means the British rider has amassed 69 points – already almost half of his entire 2011 points' tally –, while the Japanese firm holds down third in the manufacturers' standings.