DOUBLE POINTS HAUL FOR SYKES IN PORTUGAL The Kawasaki Racing Team might have been down to just one rider for round two of the 2010 Hannspree World Superbike Championship at Portimao this weekend but it turned out to be a double points haul for...
DOUBLE POINTS HAUL FOR SYKES IN PORTUGAL
The Kawasaki Racing Team might have been down to just one rider for round two of the 2010 Hannspree World Superbike Championship at Portimao this weekend but it turned out to be a double points haul for Yorkshireman Tom Sykes who recorded a 13th place in race two to go with his 15th place in the opening race.
With Australian Chris Vermeulen only able to do one lap of Friday morning's free practice due to difficulties in bending his right knee after his big Phillip Island crash a month ago, and despite a huge effort by rider, team and the medics, the 27-year-old from Brisbane was subsequently withdrawn from the meeting leaving 24-year-old Sykes from Huddersfield as the Paul Bird Team's only representative in Portugal.
Aboard the factory Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, Sykes showed good speed during the practice sessions inside the top ten and eventually managed to qualify in 12th position and on row three of the grid after Superpole.
In the opening race, Tom maintained his 12th place early on but a mistake saw him drop back to 16th where he battled for most of the race before grabbing 15th at the flag after a battle with pole-setter Cal Crutchlow who had crashed and remounted.
Race two saw Sykes get a poor start and was again relegated to 16th position where he ran for most of the race once again. Despite setting good lap times, he couldn't get a clear run and was held up by several riders in front but as the race progressed, he managed to claw some places back to finish in a respectable 13th position for the Penrith-based team, thus scoring his second points of the day.
Tom Sykes: "I qualified more or less where I expected to and was happy to start on the third row once again. We didn't have the perfect set-up but we'd made steady progress all weekend so it was unfortunate to have not made the step up in the races. I struggled with my starts and found it difficult to get past the traffic in front of me. I'm a bit frustrated in myself to be honest as I was trying hard to overtake but just couldn't get the grip coming into the corners or on the brakes to make the move. We still have work to do but I'm confident in the team and the package of the ZX-10R and with a bit more time we can hopefully start to close the gap and work towards a few more points."
Chris Vermeulen: "I came into Portimao with the intention of riding but unfortunately that wasn't the case. Friday morning's practice was the first time I've had the chance to jump on the bike since my crash at Phillip Island where I did some damage to my right knee. I tried to go out on the bike for free practice but the movement in my right knee was really restricted and I couldn't quite get my leg onto the footpeg. I tried pain killing injections at the Clinica Mobile but it didn't seem to make any difference. For some reason or another, the knee just won't bend that far, I can go around left-hand corners but I can't get my foot or my knee into position to go right. So unfortunately both the team and I decided to call it quits for this weekend and to try and focus on improving my knee hopefully for the next race in Valencia in two weeks time. From now until Valencia my aim is to source additional medical advice and to get on with an intensive physiotherapy program to try and get as much movement in that knee as possible. I'm obviously disappointed I missed the race at Portimao, not just because it's the start of the season with a new team and bike but also because it's the first race in my racing career that I've actually had to withdraw from a meeting. The team and I have been continually making positive progress so fingers crossed I am going to be fit for Valencia."
Paul Risbridger, Team Manager: "It was a big blow to the team losing Chris for this meeting on Friday and we hope that he can make a speedy recovery and be with us again for the Valencia race in a couple of weeks time. We continued to make progress during free practice and qualifying and were pleased with Tom's qualifying position where he started on the third row of the grid for the second consecutive race. Unfortunately Tom wasn't able to improve his position from his starts in both races and we did not show the pace we'd seen in the practice sessions and therefore it was disappointing to finish outside the top ten. However with two point scoring finishes, we are showing consistency and we are looking forward to a productive test this week prior to Valencia where we hope we can grab a few more points which I feel that we deserve."
The next round is at Valencia in Spain over the weekend of 9/11th April 2010.