Tom Sykes says the latest technical rule tweaks mean he must reinvent his riding style on the Kawasaki ZX-10R if he is to find a comfortable set-up to attack the 2017 World Superbike championship.
Despite not finishing outside the top three in the World Superbike riders' championship over the past five years, Sykes has one world title to his name with the rest as frustrating near-misses despite being a consistent race winner.
Sykes, along with two-time defending World Superbike champion and team-mate Jonathan Rea, heads to Jerez for the first pre-season test in 2017 and is focusing on adapting himself to the ZX-10R by changing his riding style.
The Yorkshireman is considered to have one of the most extreme riding styles on the World Superbike grid by braking deep into corners for slow mid-corner speed before accelerating hard. Despite the relative success it has provided him, helping him clinch the 2013 World Superbike title, Sykes accepts he needs to adjust for 2017 with the latest rule changes.
“With the recent technical rules we have not been as close to what I would class as a racing bike as we had been in some previous years,” Sykes said. “We have been stepping away from that and I have to say that it is about time that I need to try and adjust myself.
“I have to understand that it is not a thoroughbred racing bike and I need to adapt myself more to this. That has probably been my biggest struggle for the past couple of seasons. Now it is time to accept that there has to be a compromise.
“I am not able any more to fine-tune the bike set-up as in the past so now I probably need to bring a bit from myself.”
As well as riding style adjustments, Sykes is keen to push forward with the development of his 2017 Kawasaki in order to land upon a preferred bike set-up in time for the opening round in Phillip Island on the 24-26 February.
“We have not shown our full potential yet after the last test because we have not put the perfect set-up together yet,” he said. “What we have been able to do in previous tests is explore some different parameters, explore a few things on the bike and try to understand more.”
Sykes's Kawasaki Racing Team will be joined by the factory Ducati, Honda and Yamaha squads as well as Milwaukee Aprilia, Althea BMW and Kawasaki Puccetti Racing.