Tom Sykes has formally launched his World Superbike Championship title campaign by producing falling just 0.086secs short of a 'perfect' weekend at Assen.

Starting from his 13th career pole position following another dominant performance in qualifying, Sykes was simply untouchable during the opening race, sprinting into an early lead that proceeded to multiply from the first lap to the last.

Crossing the line some nine seconds ahead of the chasing pack, the win marked a sixth career success for Sykes, but only his third when starting from pole position.

"Race one was great for us and we did all we could. We have had a very strong winter test programme, learned a lot and have a lot of information and data. Now we are finding where we need to be. Overall I am happy because we did a lot of hard work in free practice yesterday.

"To be honest I surprised myself a little but the Ninja ZX-10R is working great. We have some great people who fight in my corner and they have given me a strong package so that I can do quite a lot of what I want to do with the bike. That first race was nice and believe me, to see that pit board gap get bigger every lap is magical for a rider."

With his dominance of race one making him the man to beat in race two, Sykes once again led early on but would find himself with Eugene Laverty for company for three-quarters of the race before the Irishman dived for the lead with three laps remaining.

Attempting to respond, Sykes would leave his charge until the iconic final corner chicane, but while he would set up the move correctly, a clipped kerb would lose him critical momentum in the sprint for the line, leaving him a mere 0.086secs short.

Despite this, a 1-2 from pole position marks Sykes's most successful WSBK weekend, one that pushes him up to second in the overall standings, 28 points behind Sylvain Guintoli.

"Almost the perfect race weekend for us after winning Superpole as well. We have made progress after a slow start to the season so we will build more momentum now to move it all forward again. The bike was working well and was very consistent today.

"When Eugene came past me in race two I realised it was much easier to follow than to lead round here and it was just unfortunate that exiting the final chicane on the last lap I hit the kerb on the inside when I was trying to pass him, and I was out of the seat. It would have been great to win race two as well but I am happy with the day and we had and the great support at Assen from all the Kawasaki fans and some Tom Sykes fans."



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