Rizla Suzuki is to give teenage British hotshot Tom Sykes a chance to demonstrate his talents on its GSX-R1000 Superbike at the eleventh round of the British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch on September 14th as a replacement rider for the injured Yukio Kagayama.

Huddersfield based Sykes, who celebrated his 18th birthday in August, will step into the boots of regular rider Kagayama, who is recovering from a broken pelvis that he sustained at Cadwell Park last month.

Rizla Suzuki wanted to substitute a young, exciting and gifted rider for Kagayama in a bid to help new talent to get to the top in UK racing and Sykes fits the bill perfectly.

"When it became clear that Yuki would be unable to race at Brands Hatch, we had to find a replacement rider. We are delighted to have Tom on board for Brands Hatch and I make no secret that this is our team keeping an eye on him for the future," said Paul Denning, Rizla's team manager. "He is one of a number of talented young riders in this year's Supersport class and his bike control is particularly impressive. I can see Tom winning races and Championships in years to come, hopefully on Suzuki motorcycles.

"Giving this chance to Tom also addresses the criticism that British teams don't do enough to foster young new talent. Rizla Suzuki as a team is eager to promote new talent and hopefully this opportunity for Tom will help him learn and develop. There is no pressure on him, we want Tom to enjoy the weekend and to gain some valuable experience."

Currently riding in the British Supersport Championship with a best result of second place at Mondello in July, Sykes started racing four years ago and since then has rose through the ranks swiftly.

In 2002 he finished runner up with five victories in the Junior Superstock Championship and most paddock pundits rate him as the next big talent to follow the likes of Carl Fogarty, Neil Hodgson and James Toseland.

"I couldn't believe it when Yuki crashed at Cadwell Park and I am glad he is well on the road to recovery. As a competitor though, I thought then, 'what if they picked me to ride the Rizla Suzuki?' but it was more of a dream. Then four days later I received a phone call from the team and it had to be done, I can't wait," commented Sykes, "I am delighted to stand in for Yuki and hope I can do him proud with my efforts.

"I'm going to enjoy myself on the bike. After the Friday practice we'll have an idea where I'll be running in the race, but I hope it is within the top 10. The Rizla Suzuki GSX-R1000 is just about the best bike on the British scene. It is different from the Ducati but seems to get more grunt out of the corner and then backs it up with a higher top speed as well.

"I'll see how it goes and how I adapt to the big bike. It doesn't intimidate me, but there is a lot more to adjust and change on the bike and I'll be learning the whole time. I want to race at the very highest level in the world in MotoGP and this is a stepping-stone to achieve that. This ride is sure to help my career and I'm so grateful that Rizla Suzuki picked me for the opportunity - thanks!"

Sykes will partner Rizla Suzuki regular rider and double British Champion John Reynolds at Brands Hatch. He is hoping to learn from the experience and JR is also looking forward to working alongside a young rider he sees as having huge potential for the future.

Rizla Suzuki in the meantime is working to secure track time for Sykes prior to the event so he can test the GSX-R1000 Superbike before racing on the demanding Brands Hatch Indy circuit.



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