Tom Sykes says he never expected the new BMW Motorrad WorldSBK squad to be fighting so high up the pecking order at the opening race as he secures seventh place on his BMW debut.

The 2013 World Superbike champion caught the eye qualifying in fourth place for the 2019 opener and was a consistent threat in the pack behind runaway leader Alvaro Bautista.

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In the closing stages Sykes was battling Turkish Puccetti Kawasaki’s Toprak Razgatlioglu for sixth place but with the new S1000RR lacking top speed grunt he had to settle for seventh place.

Despite missing out on a top six finish, Sykes remains positively impressed by BMW’s early progress having had just six pre-season test days to get the new bike up to speed.

“Consistently, we have been there in the mix. So I am obviously quite surprised about the progress of the whole BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team,” Sykes said. “To be so competitive after just six test days is quite special.

“I think everybody has seen on track that we had some limitation on the straight line but the positive is that the BMW S 1000 RR is certainly doing its job in the corners. There’s no arguing that we have a very good base setup in terms of chassis, electronics and brakes. The potential is definitely there.

“We have one race under our belt now, we keep on working and we keep on progressing. And I have to say: for the base start, I think we surprised quite a lot of people.”

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