Kawasaki Racing manager Guim Roda says his team is determined to continue exceeding expectations this season, despite its startling transformation from perennial underdogs to potential World Superbike title challengers in little more than a year.
In the hands of Tom Sykes, Kawasaki came to within just half-a-point of picking up its first WSB title in almost two decades last season, a remarkable achievement given the manufacturer's relative struggles in previous years.
Indeed, between 2000 and the end of the 2011 season, Kawasaki had only picked up four race wins (Izutsu 2000, Walker 2006, Sykes 2011), but Sykes and Loris Baz more than doubled that tally in 2012. Furthermore, Sykes raised Kawasaki's profile further by complementing his runner-up success with nine pole positions in 14 attempts.
As such, Kawasaki comes into 2013 facing far loftier expectations from commentators and rivals than before, but it is a status that KRT helmsman Roda is content with.
“We are approaching our job the same as always,” said Roda. “We just have to carry the responsibility to have this extra pressure. More people are expecting something from Tom and us. We must not lose the focus, continue working well and working hard and we are sure results will come, which is what people expect from us too.
“It is a pleasure and an honour to take the responsibility to be a reference and show our best way of working. In the future others can copy and try to be better than us but then we will work harder to be better than them and learn to be at the top all the time. That's life in racing.”
Indeed, Sykes admits there is certainly more pressure this season following his exploits in 2012, but he is determined to stay focused on the job in hand.
“I feel that it is great to be acknowledged and that people are getting behind Kawasaki and me now. I have had some difficult years before then and maybe last year caught some people by surprise. It was a big step up and certainly there are more people looking at us this year to deliver. We will quietly work away and see what we can make happen.”
Sykes picked up a pair of fifth places at the 2013 season opener in Australia, the Briton hampered by injuries sustained in a pre-season testing crash.