An exclusive interview with World Superbike rider Tom Sykes, who is looking forward to the 2015 season with Kawasaki.
Looking in from the outside it seems as though it has been a very smooth offseason for Kawasaki. How has it been for you?

Tom Sykes:
To be honest the offseason has gone very good. We had a test which was almost a waste of time just because of the weather but apart from that Jerez was good, consistent weather. We had a very productive two-day test and came very close to an acceptable base setting for the Ninja. I am very happy now. We're going to Australia to fine tune our package and try and get the season off to a good start.
When you lose the championship by such a small margin, as you did in 2014, is it easier to find motivation than when you win the title?

Tom Sykes:
It's difficult. I've lost the championship two years out of three and I put it down to other riders' miscalculations that have really cost us. As a rider when it's not your fault it's very difficult to accept because it's almost like your goal is within reaching distance and then somebody takes it away from you. Now maybe that's just my perception but I'm very bitter with things like this. All I need to do is work and try and get the world championship back. It's something I dedicate my life to and, like I said, when it's taken away from you by somebody else it's impossible to accept.

Does having a title contender on the other side of the garage provide extra motivation too?

Tom Sykes:
No, it's obviously down to the team management to control that. Last year it was something out of my control but this year we have two strong riders and it's only a bonus for Kawasaki racing. It will be interesting. It gives the team more opportunities throughout 2015, that's for sure.
How would you compare the 2014 ZX-10R and the latest model?

Tom Sykes:
We've had a few steps back if you like. That's just [part of] our racing. You know I'm not a big fan of the changes but it is what it is. Myself and Marcel [Duinker, Sykes' crew chief] and the guys around me at Kawasaki - we will work to try and make the best of our current situation.
Where and what are you looking to improve at the Phillip Island test?

Tom Sykes:
Minimal things, you know. Small adjustments to the electronics. Small adjustments to the chassis, suspension and general balance. We're coming quite close to let's say to an acceptable package so what we can do now is to start trying to improve all the areas by small percentages at a time.
You've had mixed experiences at Phillip Island in the past and perhaps it isn't Kawasaki's strongest circuit. What are your aims going there?

Tom Sykes:
Phillip Island is always a strange one. There are a few what I call 'flash in the pans'. All you can do is try your best but of course it's very crucial to come away from there with two strong results under your belt. The racing really kicks off again in Europe. That's when you always step up a few gears but we'll see. I'm going to go out and do the test before the race weekend and we'll make a calculation after the test.
Who do you believe will provide the biggest challenge in 2015?

Tom Sykes:
Ah, I mean it's difficult to say. It's a world championship. I think the World Superbike championship gets overlooked in terms of riders' abilities. There are some bloody fast guys in there and the lap times prove that. The championship has made our bike slower but we've still made incredible lap times at Jerez. Like you said there are plenty of riders that can win the championship. Ducati are working really well with the new rules and regulations. Both their riders should be strong. Myself and Jonathan...the list goes on. I'll just focus on my own issues.
The lap times in Jerez were very fast despite the new regulations. Can you see lap records consistently getting challenged?

Tom Sykes:
I think Jerez in winter time can be a little misleading but when the racing season gets underway, especially when we get into Phillip Island, we'll begin to see more of a picture.



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