British Superbikes: Christmas series part five: Tom Sykes speaks about new Rizla Suzuki team

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This is the last in a series of five interviews with British Superbike’s top riders giving their thoughts on their new teams.

Never before has there been so much movement on the British Superbikes rider market during the off-season as we’ve since this winter.  

Even the top five seats in British Superbikes have new riders sitting on them next year.

They’ve all been acquainted with their new teams so what better time to get their thoughts on their moves?

In part five, Tom Sykes gives us his views.

2007 Stobart Honda
2008Rizla Suzuki

First impressions of your new team?

“Well I think I’m the only one who’s been lucky enough to have been testing already. I told Jack (Valentine – new Rizla Suzuki team boss) and my new crew chief PJ (Pete Jennings who worked with Cal Crutchlow in the Rizla team this year) that I was pleasantly surprised with the Rizla Suzuki.

“Like I said before, you hear all the rumours but it took me all of 12 laps of Mallory before I felt totally at home with the bike. For me to jump on it and feel that way was pretty exciting.

“And things went so well at Calaft with the new Showa suspension and all the other stuff we tried for the first time. I’ve had a chance to work with my new team and that went well too. We’ve had a good time and we all seem to get along fine.”

Most exciting thing about your new team?

“I came to Rizla Suzuki for several reasons but of all of them it’s the bike that excites me the most. It’s a lot more ballpark then I’d been led to believe and there’s so much more to come.

“Suzuiki are going to have a lot more direct involvement with the team (in terms of technical support from Japan – Editor) than for a while.

“And Jack has a big programme of testing in mind. I had a good bike with Stobart Honda last year and I thank them for that but to be able to jump on the Suzuki and pretty-much know where we’re at straight off is pretty encouraging.

“It wasn’t just a pleasant surprise, it was a huge shock considering all the gossip last year. There’s so much potential.”

What will you miss most your old team?

“A real good set of lads. The workshop was only just an hour away, over the hill from my house so it was really easy to drop stuff and go over there.

“Now I’ve gone from one extreme to the other with the Rizla Suzuki workshop at the other end of the world, about 300 miles from my home.”

How will BSB shape up without Ryuichi Kiyonari?

“I think it’ll still be really competitive. It’s not just Kiyo who’s gone but there are others coming through.

“It’ll still be a very fast championship with lads like Leon Haslam, Cal Crutchlow, Leon Camier and Shakey.

“It all depends on who’s on the Yamaha too but they seem to have a strong package at World level so there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be competitive in British Superbikes too.

“It’s a really good series and there’s going to be a good half a dozen riders capable of winning races – just like world level racing really. I’m looking forward to it.

“But first we’ve got a lot of testing planned. I’ve already been out twice and it’s not even the New Year!

“I know Jack’s keen to get us clocking the miles up. Top man!

British Superbikes Christmas special part one: Shane Byrne

British Superbikes Christmas special part two: Cal Crutchlow

British Superbikes Christmas special part three: Leon Haslam

British Superbikes Christmas special part four: Leon Camier

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Gary Pinchin

By Gary Pinchin