Though he admits he cannot escape the disappointment of falling just half a point shy of the World Superbike Championship title, Tom Sykes maintains finishing runner-up in the 2012 standings remains a magnificent 'overachievement'.
Having come into the Magny-Cours round as an outside title bet after slipping 30.5 points behind Max Biaggi
with only two races to go, Sykes's run to third in the damp first encounter, coupled to Biaggi's crash, meant a more manageable 14.5 point margin split the pair with one race remaining.
Requiring a win to keep his title hopes alive, Sykes produced the ride of his career to rebuff the race long attentions of Jonathan Rea and Sylvain Guintoli, in doing so claiming his fourth victory of the year – his first in completely dry conditions.
However, having done all he could to wrest the title from Biaggi, Sykes would be dismayed to find his rival cross the line in fifth place, scoring the 11 points he needed to hold onto the series lead by a mere 0.5 points.
A bitter margin for Sykes to contend with, particularly considering the 12.5 points he lost at Monza when only half-points were awarded for his race win, the Briton was naturally disappointed to come so close.
Nonetheless, in a year where both rider and manufacturer exceeded almost every expectation, Sykes says there is still much to hail.
“We were on pole, took a new circuit record, got a podium and then a win and pulled back 30 points on Max Biaggi,” he said. “Not easy against a rider of his level. Yes, obviously there is a massive disappointment on one hand because we were only half a point from the world championship! But on the other hand, being realistic, we are very happy and we have - by far - overachieved on expectations this year.”
Wearing a distinctive yellow helmet adorned with the '17' of former team-mate Joan Lascorz, who was paralysed in an accident earlier this year, Sykes paid tribute to the Spaniard before praising the efforts of the Provec-run team for turning him into an unexpected title contender.
“We have been very strong and I think this weekend we have been particularly strong; partly because of this Joan Lascorz replica helmet I am wearing. I have had massive support here from my family, friends and the Kawasaki fans so to sum up my year it has been fantastic.