Tom Sykes says he couldn't understand why he suffered such a dramatic loss of tyre life during the closing stages of the first World Superbike Championship race in Sepang.

The Englishman led from pole position and extended his lead to more than three seconds when his pace dropped markedly with five laps remaining.

Such was the degradation, Kawasaki rider Sykes swiftly lost the lead, ending the race in fifth place having finished the final lap more than ten seconds slower than his best lap earlier in the race.

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Indeed, though the former champion admits he likes to push on, he did not expect the vast gulf in performance as a result.

"I certainly didn't feel like I was over-stressing the tyres," he told the WSBK website. "The last five laps were the longest five laps of my career. I really struggled and couldn't get any lean angle. It was a big, big shame.

"I wasn't expecting the tyres to drop off. We used an old rear tyre in Warm-Up; on the 12th lap it was still working very well. Nobody was expecting this amount of drop-off. I like to get on the bike and push hard. It would have been nice to do that for 16 laps but it wasn't the case - the track conditions didn't accept my riding style."

Despite this, Sykes heads back to the UK with good news after his wife gave birth to his second child during the race weekend.