Tom Sykes and Kawasaki have come a long way in Winter testing after he scored a fourth and then a strong third place at Phillip Island to go third in the championship rankings after the opening round of the 2012 World Superbike championship.
Sykes' first round results, after a winter of intense testing and development, demonstrated that Kawasaki's plans have been moving the race set-up of the Ninja ZX-10R in the right direction. It was particularly evident at Phillip Island as this track has seldom been kind to Sykes or the team in the past and Tom does not cite it as one of his favourites.
After starting from pole in race one Sykes led for the first two laps and was in a podium place for 13 laps, only dropping back in the final few laps as the wind started to affect his machine and tyre wear took its toll. Changes to the bike set-up in race two helped the Brit to not only lead again and then defend his position but he was also able to run down Jonathan Rea to secure third exiting the final corner and holding it down the long straight.
"In race one I got a good start and over race distance I had been feeling really strong all week. It was a very difficult race with the wind blowing me and the bike around but to be honest I had to use my head a bit and not get sucked into too much fighting," Sykes explained.
"I was just trying to manage the gap behind, but to come away with a fourth, on a track like this, using the same tyres as the guys on the podium, is a bit of a first for us. It shows the progress Kawasaki has made over the winter. To take the podium on the last lap was really satisfying and the bike has been working really well in winter testing so big thanks to the team; they were very focused.
"Race two was even more windy than race one but my crew chief and team changed the balance of the bike and compensated for some things. For sure we arrived at the limit but we were able to maintain a consistent pace right to the end. I had a good fight with Max for a couple of laps and a few corners. So to come away with pole position, third and fourth in the races? I am over the moon, because this circuit has never been a strong one for us in the past."
Steve Guttridge: Kawasaki Europe Race Planning Manager added, "This is a fantastic weekend after all the hard work the teams have done and they pulled out all the stops. They had a very intelligent testing programme and put it all together on raceday. Kawasaki is delighted with the performance and commitment of the teams. To see Tom be able to push right until the last lap and then make a pass for his podium place on the finish straight was fantastic."