Tom Sykes might have finished fourth in the championship, but a late performance surge and impressive wildcards made him one of the hottest properties to come out of BSB in 2008.
Sykes had a torrid start to his 2008 title push.
The 23-year old had two DNF’s in the first six races of the year – enough to hamper a realistic challenge on Shane Byrne who had already distanced himself at the top of the standings.
But the turn-around came for the Huddersfield rider when he competed in his first wildcard appearance of the year in the Brands Hatch WSB round in August.
Sykes was forced out of race one by a stone wedged in his GSX-R1000K8 radiator but finished as high as seventh in race two.
With WSB teams already showing interest Sykes’ three BSB race wins on the trot at Oulton Park and Knockhill were made all the sweeter by a second place in race one at Donington Park in his second World Superbike wildcard appearance within a month.
And that would be proof enough for Yamaha Moto Italia Team Manager, Massimo Meregalli, that Sykes was worth a punt in the World Championship for ‘09.
In fact, Sykes’ factory Yamaha deal ended up being the top World Superbike gig for all of the departing British Superbike riders even though Byrne, Haslam and Crutchlow ended 2008 above him in championship.
And with age still on his side and securing one of the strongest seats in all of motorcycle racing, Sykes became the most promising next generation of British riders to graduate to a World series.