An emotional Tom Sykes admitted he had shed tears after winning the World Superbike Championship on Sunday. The Huddersfield-born 28-year-old Kawasaki rider, who missed out on the last year’s title by half a point, finished third in the opening race of the final round at Jerez.
That was enough for him to take the championship as he finished behind Ireland’s Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) and the Gold Bet BMW of Italian Marco Melandri. Sykes, who lives in Coventry, became the fourth British winner of the title after Carl Fogarty, Neil Hodgson and James Toseland.
“I’m absolutely over the moon, so emotional. I was shedding a few tears on the slowing-down lap; I was shaking,” Sykes said. “There have been lots of sacrifices to get here. Finally we’re here and what a feeling.”
After missing out on year’s title to Italian Max Biaggi by such an agonising margin, Sykes started this year with a cracked bone in his left wrist, but he proved able to cope with an up and down season. “Luckily, this is our moment,” he said. “I was so close last year. I’ve been waiting a long time for this and she’s finally here.”
Laverty, who won a fierce battle with Melandri to take the race win, said: “Congratulations to Tom on the championship. Tom and Kawasaki moved the goalposts very far this year. They did a fantastic job.”
Laverty held the lead for most of the race until his Italian rival went ahead of him on the penultimate lap. But Laverty went around the outside of Melandri in the final corner to snatch victory. Sykes rode to a safe third place after dealing with the attentions of Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli on the second factory Aprilia.
Hampered at the start of the season by his wrist injury, Sykes had taken his time to show his true speed. But a first and a second at round three in the Netherlands showed he would be a title contender and he followed that up by taking a double race win at Donington Park.
He repeated that in Italy but his second home round at Silverstone proved a low point as he could only finish 11th and seventh. But from there Skyes showed the sort of form which has earned him the title, taking a race win in Germany, two podium finishes in Turkey, a win and a fourth in the United States and a double victory in France before sealing the title in Spain.
Sykes did not have it all his own way in race two as he was forced to settle for second place. He had led until half distance but then Laverty took control.Reuse content