Sacrifices pay off as Sykes crowned World Superbikes champion

emotional Tom Sykes admitted he had shed tears after winning the World Superbike Championship.
Yorkshire's Tom Sykes is the new World Superbiks champion.Yorkshire's Tom Sykes is the new World Superbiks champion.
Yorkshire's Tom Sykes is the new World Superbiks champion.

The Huddersfield-born 28-year-old Kawasaki rider, who missed out on the 2012 title by half a point, finished third in the opening race of the final round at Jerez.

Sykes did enough to take the championship at the Spanish circuit as he finished behind Ireland’s Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) and the Gold Bet BMW of Italian Marco Melandri.

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Sykes, who lives in Coventry, became the fourth British winner of the title after Carl Fogarty, Neil Hodgson and Sheffield’s 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.”

Sykes had lost the title in 2012 by half a point to Italian Max Biaggi and also started this year with a cracked bone in his left wrist but was able to cope with an up and down season to take the title.

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He added: “Luckily this is our moment. 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, added: “Congratulations to Tom on the championship. Tom and Kawasaki moved the goalposts very far this year.

“They did a fantastic job and congratulations to them.”

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 a dramatic victory.

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Sykes rode to a safe third place after dealing with the attentions of Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli on the second factory Aprilia.

Hampered by his left wrist injury at the start of the season Sykes had taken his time to show his true speed.

But a first and a second at round three in Holland showed he would be a title contender and he followed that up by taking a double race win at Donington Park. Sykes 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.

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Sykes did not have it all his own way in race two as he was forced to settle for second place.

Sykes had led until half distance but then Laverty took control, winning his second race of the day comfortably from the newly-crowned champion with Gunitoli finishing in third.

Tee-total and with a permanent grin, Sykes will carry the number one plate for the Kawasaki Racing Team in 2014, having already signed to race for the Spanish-based outfit next season.

But it was not always smooth going for the Japanese manufacturer and Sykes.

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An uncompetitive machine meant his World Superbike efforts were restricted to 14th in 2010. Sykes was 13th the following year, but a race win in Germany showed that he was heading in the right direction.

Kawasaki finally delivered in 2012 with a bike capable of earning it a first world championship for almost two decades.

Sykes responded by setting a series of pole positions and four race wins but he was thwarted by just half a point by retiring Biaggi.

With the world champion paired with Kawasaki again in 2014 there is no reason why he cannot repeat his world title.