Speaking to journalists at the KRT Kawasaki's team launch in Barcelona, Tom Sykes describes his feelings with the new ZX-10R, the charged atmosphere within the squad and the added competition in 2016 World Superbike field.

Question:
Judging by the team presentation, you sound very confident going into the 2016 season.

Tom Sykes:
You have to be. 2015 was a step back in terms of my performance. I wasn't able to do what I wanted. It was also a very good schooling year. We learnt a lot. Now we've obviously got better tools from Kawasaki. I'm very happy. I'm very relaxed and motivated and I feel that we have the right package to go racing.

Question:
You've been fast in testing. Do you think you have already made a statement?

Tom Sykes:
I don't know. In a way no but in a way yes because I've not been chasing lap times and in a way the lap times have come. They have also been very competitive lap times. In a way yes but the real action will start in the racing. Like I said, I feel like everything is there to be a good step better than last year. Then we struggled toward the end of the race and this year I feel that we can improve at the end of the race so, on the back of this information, I'm very relaxed about my racing this season.

Question:
Although 2015 didn't go as you planned, was it motivating to see another guy on the same bike have all that success?

Tom Sykes:
To be honest I was just trying to do the best I could but unfortunately it wasn't good enough. I was very limited as to how I wanted to ride the bike. I feel it was a bit of a struggle but like I said I learnt a lot from it. In a way I also have got to be grateful. It was a tough season. The riding style of Jonathan and the technical regulations was an utter marriage. They were at one and like I said I think that this year can be different.

Question:
With perhaps both riders from the same team fighting for the title there could be a real battle within the team. Do you think it could get quite juicy?

Tom Sykes:
Definitely. There are a couple of guys inside the team that have already set up that environment. I've always been a team player and I've always worked for the Kawasaki racing team. But last year the team got divided quite quickly. We saw the introduction of 'Team 65'. As a team rider you always feel that that is a bit of a statement. At the end of the day this year we know where we're standing and we know how to bring the battle more to the table.

Question:
Jonathan said at the close of a recent test in Jerez that the bike is suited to one kind of style. Does that give you an added boost, thinking that perhaps he needs to adapt his way of riding and you don't?

Tom Sykes:
Not really. Like I said, last year I got beaten and I accepted that graciously. I never really got sucked into believing otherwise. I saw that statement and I thought in a way it is a bit of an incorrect statement. Finally it's still based around the model which he came to and won the world championship on. Sometimes you've got to be careful with your words but I certainly feel that, speaking to a lot of other riders, the quality of the ZX-10R is suited to many riding styles. We've seen that in world and British championships. I won't pay much attention to this. Like I said, I certainly won't lose any sleep. But one thing that I will say is obviously we're in a stronger position compared to last year.

Question:
What would you say are the biggest differences between the '15 bike and the new ZX-10R?

Tom Sykes:
It's more of a racing bike. Last year I felt like I was having to ride more. I never felt like I was able to come close to 100 percent of my racing capabilities. Kawasaki have done a great job. Obviously they've got technical restrictions with what they can do on a road bike and they've done a great compromise for a bike that's great on track and on the road. This gives us a great base setting, a great base to work from and this puts us in a stronger position. Like I said it's clear for everyone to see that testing has been a bit better for us. You know, I'm not counting my chickens. There is still work to be done. Like I said, I know we're closer to the mark and that's the main thing.

Question:
In your eyes is the bike still some way off its full potential?

Tom Sykes:
There are one or two areas that I'd still like to adjust a little bit but they are minimal changes. We don't need to reinvent the wheel so, let's say, it's clear what we would like to try and we'll go ahead and try it in Australia.

Question:
Are you looking at Jonathan and Chaz Davies as your main competitors for the title?

Tom Sykes:
Yeah, definitely. Going on last year's form and going off the form from testing those are the two guys that we need to look out for. Obviously there are more than them and we'll just focus on ourselves.

Question:
The World Superbike field certainly has greater depth this year. Can you foresee a season when any one of ten riders can challenge for a podium finish?

Tom Sykes:
There is definitely the same quality but I feel that we've added to the depth of the field. We've definitely got a few more capable riders. I think that's only going to be good for the fans and the races. I think it's going to provide a little bit more racing, instead of first to fourth you're maybe going to see first to tenth. I still believe there is a handful of riders that, on their perfect race day, can win the race.

 

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