PAUL BIRD MOTORSPORTS:
Following on the recent announcement that Chris Vermeulen will race a factory-backed Kawasaki in next season’s World Superbike Championship, team owner Paul Bird has today announced that it will be Yorkshireman Tom Sykes who will partner the Australian aboard the works Ninja ZX-10Rs.
Having been awarded the official contract to run the works Kawasaki team in WSB at the end of last year, the Kawasaki Superbike Racing Team has enjoyed their first year association with the factory this season despite riders Broc Parkes and in particular, Makoto Tamada suffering an injury-ravaged season.
Parkes has been a regular points scorer throughout the season and with on-going development work over winter, the team expects to be challenging for podiums and race wins in 2010.
Whereas Vermeulen, the 2003 World Supersport Champion and winner of the 2007 French MotoGP, is linking up with maverick Cumbrian businessman Bird for the first time, it will be Sykes’ second spell with the team having raced in British Superbikes in 2007 whereby he was a regular podium finisher.
During his WSB career, 27-year-old Vermeulen, from Brisbane, has racked up ten race victories and was runner-up in the 2005 World Superbike Championship and 24-year-old Sykes, from Huddersfield, made his full-time WSB debut this season, scoring a best result of 4th at Assen to add to his wild card podium at Donington in 2008.
The team will also be announcing further details in due course of a new title sponsor which will back the team for the next two years.
Chris Vermeulen: “I’m very happy and excited about this. I spoke with Kawasaki and they told me they were prepared to put in large amounts of resources and attention into winning the World Superbike Championship. That is what I want, to challenge and to win races. I know Paul from my time racing in the UK, and I know that he runs a great outfit, and I’m really looking forward to working with the team.”
Tom Sykes: “The team has big plans for World Superbikes next year so I’m really looking forward to being part of them. The big factor for me was that I have worked with the team before and know how good they are, they’re one of the best teams I’ve ridden for and I’ll have the same crew chief as I had in my rookie season in BSB. I’ve learned a hell of a lot this year and the intention is to put that experience to good use and I’ve every confidence that the package will be very competitive in 2010.”
Paul Bird, Team Owner: “I’m absolutely delighted that we have managed to sign both Chris and Tom, as they are both fantastic riders and I know they’ll do a great job for us next season. Chris has proved how competitive he is on a Superbike as his results demonstrate and I’ve always rated Tom highly, that’s why I handed him his first proper Superbike ride back in 2007. The team has made huge strides forward this year and we can now put into practice what we have learned and I fully expect us to be challenging at the sharp end in 2010. I’d like to take this opportunity to say a special thanks to both Broc and Makoto for their hard work, professionalism and dedication during the past season and myself and the whole team wishes them both well for the future.”