Tom Sykes says he can go into the summer break feeling 'very relaxed and very motivated' after exceeding his own expectations by extending his World Superbike Championship lead at Laguna Seca with an eighth win of the season.
Starting from pole position after demolishing the lap record during qualifying, though onlookers might have assumed Sykes was a comfortable favourite coming into race day, the British rider was somewhat less optimistic about his chances even before an error on the opening lap of race one saw him cede a lead he couldn't regain.
Finishing a fairly distant third behind Marco Melandri and Sylvain Guintoli, Sykes said he had no complaints about his performance beyond the fact the two Aprilia riders were simply quicker.
“I ran a bit wide at the Corkscrew on lap one of race one but the bike was working well, just not well enough to win,” he said. “The guys who finished ahead of me have a great track record here, have ridden so many times in GPs and both did well last year. I was happy with everything in race one but in the pure performance of rear traction we gave away too much.”
Eager to bounce back in race two, two restarts and the reduction of the race distance to just seven laps put paid to any discerning strategy, with Sykes 'going big' in his efforts to get the edge on his main rivals.
Even so, it would take a costly tumble from the lead by Melandri for Sykes to get back the advantage, the Kawasaki rider duly sprinting home to secure an eighth win of the season and to swell his lead overall to 44 points – a one point gain over what he had at the beginning of the weekend.
Indeed, the defending champion was thrilled to be taking a bigger lead into the eight-week summer break, not least because he was prepared to see it reduced this weekend.
“An eighth win of the year and one more point ahead in the championship,” he continued. “I knew this circuit would be difficult for us after last year, and then again after race one this year, so if you had offered me that deal last night I would have taken it. I thought my points gap may have been reduced after this round.
“In race one you can talk about having a strategy but in race two, with all the red flags and a short race it was a case of go big! I was motivated after race one and the bike was working well. We made changes for the first attempt at race two and we improved it, and then for the first restart it was better again and then for the final part we made another change and it was better again.
“I am very happy to have extended my championship lead and a great pleasure to take the win. I can go into the summer break very relaxed and very motivated.”