News 18 Jul 2018

Sykes and Kawasaki to split at completion of season

Former WorldSBK champion to switch teams from 2019.

Image: Supplied.

The nine-year association between Tom Sykes and the Kawasaki Racing Team will conclude at the end of the current Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) season, mutually agreeing to part ways from 2019.

Sykes was crowned world champion with Kawasaki in the 2013 season, which was the brand’s first since Scott Russell claimed the title in 1993. The Englishman has been instrumental in developing the current generation Ninja ZX-10R.

“I feel the time has arrived, the moment to make a change in my career and seek new challenges,” Sykes stated. “Having the motivation to push to your limits and that of your machine is all the more important when you look for the victory at every race and I feel I have given all I can within KRT. I am now the best rider I have ever been and I have the experience to keep winning.

“So now I have decided to make a step away from the KRT project for 2019 and look for new goals and challenges. I will now concentrate to finish on the podium for the last four rounds of 2018 and I am determined to enjoy my racing and making this announcement effectively ends all speculation.

“The timing of this big career decision is never easy, but it is especially difficult as my personal life also faces big changes. Regarding this I feel the weight of pressure has been slightly lifted from my shoulders and I am sure 2019 will allow me to operate at full capacity.”

It’s tipped that Sykes’ replacement will be current British Superbike Championship leader Leon Haslam, who is partnering world champion Jonathan Rea in the upcoming Suzuka 8 Hours at Kawasaki Team Green. Nothing has been confirmed at this point.

“It has been a busy few weeks recently and for sure we have talked many hours internally,” explained Kawasaki team manager Guim Roda. “In the most recent rounds Tom’s concentration was not able to be the best, as he was dealing with a big decision – apart from some family points to solve – this has taken a lot of his concentration over the past two years.

“I hope this final confirmation will give us room to finish the year in the same way we dominated in Assen. We have big job to do until end of year, so is not time to say good bye yet. Of course this is an announcement of intentions for 2019, but the more important is to work hard to finish the year with the same determination that we started with.”

Sykes also achieved championship second place status in 2012, 2014 and 2016, with the 2012 attempt being closest ever runner up finish at just 0.5 points between himself and a second world championship behind Aprilia’s Max Biaggi.