Tom Sykes heads into the penultimate round of the 2012 World Superbike Championship knowing a good or bad performance at Portimao could prove pivotal to his title hopes.
The Kawasaki rider has been steadily reeling in title favourites Max Biaggi and Marco Melandri in recent rounds, and though he wasn't able to take full advantage of his rivals' misfortune last time out at the Nurburgring, two solid top five finishes were still enough to take a significant chunk out of their advantage.
Currently 26.5 points behind Biaggi – and just 17 points from Melandri –, Sykes feels it wouldn't take much luck to get himself into position to fight for the 2012 title at the season-ending Magny-Cours event, though he maintains that he will take it 'one race at a time'.
“The Portimao circuit is quite extreme, especially in the way it changes elevation so fast and so often, but I think that the way the Ninja ZX-10R is working we should be able to go to any circuit and do well.
“Right now, with two rounds to go, 90 per cent of my thoughts are about taking it just one race at a time, and of course we will do what we have been doing all year when we get to Portugal. Obviously, ten per cent of me is also thinking that we are in a good position in the table.
“If we play our cards right we can stay in the top three, and if we play our cards really well then we can win the championship. But in reality, come race weekend, we will go race-by-race and carry on as we have been doing.”
“I think that we have proved to people that when the bike set-up is working we can be fast and we have the pace to run at the front consistently.
“I am confident in my own ability and both the team and Kawasaki have been fantastic. If we keep working on the set-up and get it to where it should be every time, then we all should be pretty happy.”
Sykes is well placed to finish in the top three overall having now pulled out a 44 point margin over Carlos Checa in the standings.