Among the many twists and turns that made the run-in to the last round of the 2012 Superbike World Championship such a compelling affair, the most unlikely was that late season challenge of the official Kawasaki Racing Team and its British rider, Tom Sykes.
Easily the most individual in lifestyle, nature and with a sometimes-puzzling public persona, Sykes is hardly your average motorcycle racer.
A relatively late starter on four-strokes, he was a quick enough learner in national competition.
As one of an entire phalanx of great British Superbike riders who arrived in World Superbike racing almost simultaneously in the late 2000s, initial impressions were that he was not necessarily the most likely to succeed. Crucially, however, some of his main British Superbike rivals and fellow World Superbike arrivistes were happy to tell you how good Sykes was. The world just never got to see quite how good he was until he got a really strong bike and support in 2012.
After a Yamaha season in the shadow of convincing champion and teammate Ben Spies in 2009, then as a Kawasaki rider on the old-fashioned and outpaced Ninja ZX-10R in 2010, he over-performed on occasions well enough for former works team ‘operating company' PBM Racing to insist he got a factory bike and a slot alongside the already signed Chris Vermeulen and Joan Lascorz in 2011.
For the complete interview with Sykes, clock on the following link: