Tom Sykes Signs On For Two More Years In World Superbikes With Kawasaki

Tom Sykes will be staying on with Kawasaki for two more seasons. Kawasaki today announced that the Yorkshireman has signed a contract to remain with the Japanese factory in World Superbikes for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. 

The announcement does not come as a surprise. Sykes has known great success with Kawasaki since leaving Yamaha after his first year in World Superbikes. All of Sykes' wins in the class have come aboard a green machine, and the Yorkshireman won his first World Superbike title with Kawasaki last year. Currently leading the 2014 championship by 44 points, his second successive title is within grasp. The Kawasaki ZX-10R remains a highly competitve package, and Sykes is a good fit inside the team.

Unlike many of his fellow WSBK riders, Sykes was never in the frame for a MotoGP ride. Sykes had shown little interest in making the jump to MotoGP, unless he could be on top-flight machinery. With all of the factory bikes tied up, and the satellite slots largely spoken for, there was little room for Sykes, even if he had been interested in a move. Instead, Sykes preferred to stay on in World Superbikes, and chase more WSBK titles.

Below is the press release issued by Kawasaki on the Sykes signing:

Tom Sykes To Remain With KRT For Two More Years

Reigning World Champion Tom Sykes has recently signed an agreement to continue as an official Kawasaki Superbike World Championship rider for two more years, covering the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

Yorkshireman Sykes (29) won the title with Kawasaki in 2013 and is currently in a commanding 44-point lead in the 2014 championship as Kawasaki continues its ‘Ninja 30’ anniversary celebrations throughout the year. Having competed on official Kawasaki machinery since the 2010 season Tom has become ‘Mr Kawasaki’ in the eyes of not only his many fans but also the Kawasaki family and the world at large.

Sykes has won all of his 22 career WSBK race victories to date with Kawasaki and is the most successful rider in Superpole qualifying in the modern era, with 23 Superpole wins - again all on Ninja ZX-10R machines. In 151 race starts in WSB Sykes has taken 46 podiums and 21 fastest laps.

The 2015 season and beyond will present a new challenge for all involved in the KRT effort, as the technical regulations will change in some significant ways, but Sykes and Kawasaki are confident that the class-leading Ninja ZX-10R will be a competitive package in any form of production-derived racing.

Tom Sykes: “I am very excited to re-sign and the decision was quite easy. I am looking forward to another two years with a great manufacturer. Kawasaki and I already have quite a good history. This is my fifth year as a rider with the brand, my fourth year with the current model of the Ninja ZX-10R, so for me it was an easy decision to continue.

I have put so much work into the bike I would not want to give my baby to someone else! We have been in discussion for a while but we have had really good success in recent years and continuing our relationship gives us an opportunity to take the story forward again. I sat at home and went through the pros and cons, like you do with a lot of things in life, and the pros for re-signing were almost endless.

I am very happy because Kawasaki and I have a high level of mutual respect and trust. The team is doing a great job so it is great to have two more years of continuity. I am relaxed now I know that I am moving on again with a great brand and a great team around me. I feel proud to have been involved in helping the development direction of the Ninja, so I am very happy to be staying where I am.”

Steve Guttridge, Racing Manager Kawasaki Motors Europe: “I'm so pleased that we have come to an agreement with Tom to continue the great job that he has been making in World Superbike on our Ninja ZX-10R over the past few seasons. He's our World Champion and a great ambassador for our brand too. At this moment we are very committed to continuing our dominance in Superbike racing and Tom is the man to help Kawasaki do just that."

Guim Roda, Team Manager Kawasaki Racing Team: “It is very good that Kawasaki and Tom have signed again for 2015 and 2016 as it is a very good point to work towards the new rules coming in 2015, and make another strong season in 2016. Tom knows the bike and team very well and I can guarantee he has still not arrived at the limit of his full potential. This is a very good opportunity to continue with great stability so we can improve the package and be even stronger next year.

The show will go on! I’m sure this is very good news for all Kawasaki fans and we want to say thanks for all the support shown to the KRT team and riders. I hope now we can enjoy a nice holiday during the current summer break and that Tom rests enough to remain very strong in the last part of the season.”

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Good for Tom! I've never understood the attraction of a successful WSB rider going to MotoGP on an uncompetitive bike that might (on their luckiest days) get them just outside the top 10?

What is it? The money? The prestige? The kudos of competing in the same class as Rossi, Lorenzo and Marquez etc for bragging rights?

I can understand the attraction when Toseland and Spies got a Tech 3 ride when they had a chance to impress (but not win), but why would any WSB rider that gets decent results in WSB go to MotoGP on a crap bike they'll never stand any chance on?

Anybody care to explain?

Glad Tom is staying where he is!

I guess that for many, particularly the likes of Spies, Toseland, Bayliss, Edwards etc whose career is on an upward trajectory, they must believe that they can really succeed. Impress on a 2nd string bike if that's what you have to do initially, move up to a factory position and start to win races. These guys have to believe in their abilities otherwise they won't do it.

For those in the lower order I suppose it's still a good career move, it's the top class and their name is out there on TV to millions even if it's only a subliminal thing. More than likely they also still learn a lot and when they drop back to some lesser level they are probably a better racer for their experience. Also just the buzz of lining up on that grid, racing in front of the big crowds, etc etc, not many can say they've done that. I wonder whether someone like Broc Parkes does better out of his current gig in the least competitive team in MGP or whether overall - salary, personal sponsors, exposure, general cred for later career - he was better in the mix for race wins in WSS etc?

Think the comment by the chap below pretty much explains it.

GPs, like it or not, have always been considered the blue riband of motorcycle racing, and the champion and top riders as the fastest in the world. Mat Mladin and Fogarty might have said that they would have kicked Doohan's arse, but for most pundits and fans of that era there is no contest about who the fastest rider of that era was.

I suppose they think that even riding on a slower bike they might get noticed, and pulled into a better (factory) ride. Ben Spies arguably did this with Tech 3 Yamaha, although that bike was substantially better than the chances Hodgson and Xaus had on that Pramac Ducati (when the team was pretty much at its lowest ebb). The riders do seem a great deal more cautious about making the leap though, and I think Rea and Sykes are probably right to hold on for a good offer.

I was surprised about the wsbk salaries though, I remember an interview with Barros where he talked about not getting the hind ride because Checa offered to rude for almost nothing. Not sure if that was true or not.

I like Tom Sykes and I appreciate what he has done for my favourite marque Kawasaki. It is nice of him to want to continue in the series with the same manufacturer. My problem is that the series itself has become so shaky. Rounds are being cancelled and not enough replacements are found. The two race pattern does not sit well with TV broadcasters and so apart from going to the WSBK website there is not much one can do. I wonder if the series will survive another two years? I am exaggerating but that is only to draw attention to a very neglected series.

I actually have an idea. The MotoGP series should become the only series of motorcycle racing. It should have have 4 categories instead of the present three. Moto3 can remain as it is. Moto2 can change and incorporate World Supersport and 1000 cc machines which will become Evo machines can be put as Moto1 and then on the pinnacle have the MotoGP race. I know this is very wild thinking but if you think about it enough, it is not such a bad idea.

I read that viewing figures for WSB in Italy and Spain were up massively this year. In Italy, I believe they even surpassed the GP viewing figures - this is explained by GPs going to pay-TV there (as it has done in the UK), but it shows that there are still a lot of viewers and therefore much easier for teams to find sponsors.

The situation in the UK is a funny one, with attendance at circuits down greatly at what was the 'home' of WSB at one point - 125,000 crowds at Brands during King Foggy's era etc. I think a lot of the fans migrated with Edwards, Haga, Toseland etc. from WSB to GP and stayed there, at least as far as circuit attendance goes. BSN had a pretty interesting article on it the other week, although there wasn't really much of a conclusion as to why figures were down.

But, it seems like the UK might be the odd one out in this regard, and at least Dorna are trying to get new races sorted in different locations (Russia, Turkey, Malaysia etc.) and to try and expand the brand. Very disappointed that they couldn't find a replacement for SA though, that won't help things.

So WSBK is still popular elsewhere to the UK? Its 'tanked' in the UK, did I read that only 15,000 turned up at Donington this year? Nobody appears to be interested, as evidenced by the little attention it gets here.

I believe it gets largely ignored in the US too?

I'm pleased if its doing well elsewhere, hope I can still get to see it, have to admit I won't bother going to Donny though, the place is a dump compared with Silverstone.

if Kawasaki go to MGP and Sykes would like a crack at it there is little doubt he will be on pole (or close) for that ride.
Camier has reminded everyone that WSB riders are good enough.
As suggested above, I cannot imagine any rider not wanting to do it (on a decent bike).

Would love to see Kawasaki in GPs again - they started terribly before (remember seeing McCoy going roung the track in last in Catalunya 2003, spinning up the rear to entertain the crowds) but for a few years the bike was almost there, especially in the hands of Nakano.

I've read that the WSB bike have funds not that far off GP teams. Perhaps when Dorna have stabilised the rules a little in GP for a couple of years, both they and some other manufacturers (BMW etc.) might consider going there.

I don't know what the attendance was at Laguna Seca WSB but by my estimate (I was there) likely about 25-30% of the last MotoGP. I suspect that the terrible TV coverage in North America is partly to blame - Speed Channel would put most viewers off the sport and now that we can get WSB on Be In Sports, which is excellent, but very expensive, so not many viewing, hence lack of interest.
Dorna are definitely not looking after the sport here in Canada or the USA.

For me it makes total sense that Tom Sykes chooses to stay in a series where he can compete for the big prize, win a smile from his lovely wife when he crosses the line, and then spray fizz onto the adoring masses. Eating the dust of aliens can't be much fun compared to that.
IMO there's far more entertainment in the multi-national Superbike show than the closed-shop MotoGP circus - and it'll be sad if it can't flourish.

Let's not kid ourselves about MotoGP's glamor. It's no star-studded Oscar night - two leads, two fading stars and a bunch of extras. The talent of 93, 99, 46 and 26 is mind-blowingly awesome and all that - but I'm bored watching the same four butts bobbing up and down in the saddle week after week. Ever since 2009 - except for some rare exceptions - it's been a four-bike race with a rag-tag posse trailing hopelessly in their wake on a bunch of nags. The relevance of the support cast to the main story is demonstrated by the TV cameras only giving them any attention when their bikes take a spectacular tumble into the gravel.

PS - maybe DE or MO could do an in-depth interview with an outspoken retired rider like Colin Edwards to get the lowdown on the five circles of bike-racing purgatory - AMA, WorldSBK, MotoGP factory prototype, satellite and gun-fodder. It could cover The Importance Of Being A Contender, comparative salaries, prestige, endorsements, pit lane spats . . . . and the first aid skills of umbrella girls - a real narrative arc.

...but, I doubt it would be the Tell all we'd hope for. Edwards is a business man and I don't recall him being one to burn bridges. I've read a few racers books and have been a bit underwhelmed. As Whole you can just about figure what they are going to say.

I personally prefer WSBK show rather than many brands/factory there -though I hate to see when Yamaha & BMW pulled off... gladly there are 3 exciting new entrants this year : Bimota, MV agusta and Buell... I also like 2 race format which provide 2nd chance for riders to improve their setting and re-shuffle point standing :) I saw many red-flagged race and quick restart that can put more drama -such as race in Laguna... I like hearing comments from Jhonny Green-Steve Martin which both have extensive knowledge over this sports show.. I bet it'll be much more interesting next year with new regulation.. EVO riders like Salom-Canepa will have chance to run with Sykes-Rea.

Oh my lordy Sinbad, I love your post even though I enjoy the GP show a bit more than your portrayal. In consideration of your great well said point I think of our tide of relatively equalizing rule changes underway positively (cue the 2 star reviews).

RE why riders go from the pointy end of WSBK to the least stinky nook of MotoGP's arse end perhaps we are missing something. Yes, Sykes gets to spray fizz on his lovely smiling wife and enjoy winning and some solid is good racing. Yes, there are salaries to consider. TV coverage and such. Career opportunity perceptions.

Motorcycle racers also have a long driven forward urge, like spawning salmon, onto the bigger better and next bike. That first race bike, then the 600ss, 1000ss, 1000sbk, and you just HAVE to get on that protype bike if you can. We are all a bunch of obsessed idiots, every last one of us reading all this schtuff about kid's toys gone supernova. We have a damn disease!

I am getting some medication and switching to the cooking channel and Prius club boards.

Maybe Sykes' ability to avoid the usual temptations and plough his own furrow is what makes him so widely admired.
As for MotoGP - of course I was overstating. All the riders are brave and skilled - but the spectacle is a disappointment because the equipment dice are loaded. It's like Rafael Nadal playing tennis with a carbon fibre racquet and nylon strings - and everybody else with wood and catgut. As much fun as watching Gordon Ramsey boil an egg.

PS - An important point - I never said Gentleman Tom sprayed fizz over his wife - only over the riff-raff like you and me.