PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDREA WILSON
MONTEREY, CA , SEPTEMBER 26 – World Superbikes finally make its return to Laguna Seca this weekend after an eight-year absence, and many of the riders in the championship will be making their first ever visit to the famed track in Monterey, California. One of whom is the series points leader, Tom Sykes.
The Yorkshireman, on the Kawasaki, leads his series rival, Sylvain Guintoli, on the factory Aprilia, by eight points and Guintoli’s teammate Eugene Laverty by 26. In recent years, the World Superbike Championship has been a closely contested one, sometimes going down to the wire like last year’s championship when Sykes lost to Biaggi by a mere half point.
This year’s championship appears to be shaping up to do the same, with a whole lot of inconsistency and a lot of riders suffering injuries. Now that there’s only six total races of the year left to grab points, any advantage a rider can have is important. Sykes was asked in today’s pre-race press conference about his first thoughts of Laguna Seca going into the weekend.
“It looks like an amazing circuit,” Sykes answered. “First time for me here in Laguna. I’m fairly confident, fairly happy to be here. The circuit looks like… when I started racing in the British [Superbike] Championship – blind corners, lots of elevation changes. It’s something that’s quite familiar for the British guys.”
Although circuit knowledge is an advantage in racing, it was pointed out that Sykes was able to get up to speed quickly at the previous round in Turkey. So while it’s a disadvantage, it isn’t one that seems to weigh on his mind.
“It can be interesting,” Sykes said. “And you know, Turkey was new, but I was able to do a good job after two hours track time. Here we should have more track time. You know, Turkey was definitely a big problem with the weather. So looking forward to here, I think the Kawasaki should work well. I think the track layout is quite interesting for myself. Now we’ll see. Hopefully if we can work hard from tomorrow morning we can have a good weekend, but my only disadvantage is that some of my closest competitors have been here before in the past. That’s a small disadvantage, but you know we can work with that.”
Being that the competition in the series is very close and with the championship on the line, would there be any Rossi/Marquez-like moves in the corkscrew?
“To be honest it would be interesting,” Sykes said. “The pass that Valentino [Rossi] did on Casey [Stoner] and the same one, [Marc] Marquez did on Valentino again…To be honest the way things have gone this season I’m a bit nervous if I do something like that; I’ll end up getting disqualified. We’ve got to be a bit more clean. But it would be nice to do something like that. It’s certainly a circuit that lends itself to a good opportunity. We’ll see. It’s going to be the end of the season with many riders now on good form. So I’m looking forward to it.”