Apr 17, 2012
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Tom Sykes (66).
Sykes Quietly Confident As Series Heads To Assen
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) enters the Assen round in third place in the points' table after a strong start to the SBK championship, with three podium finishes scored out of four races so far.
In readiness for the Assen race weekend Sykes completed a planned test at the former SBK venue of Valencia last Tuesday and Wednesday. Track conditions were not in the team's favour but as always Sykes and his team learned more valuable lessons about the ever-improving Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R.
Sykes will ride as a lone competitor for the official Kawasaki squad this weekend as his team-mate Joan Lascorz continues his recovery in a Barcelona hospital, after sustaining an injury to his C6 vertebra in a recent testing crash.
The overall official Kawasaki SBK effort has seen all its hard work in the winter months rewarded with a third and two second places already for Sykes in 2012, with Tom consistently fast in qualifying and the overall machine package proving capable of running close to the front over full race distances.
Sykes has won both Superpole contests so far and has only been off the podium once, in fourth place in the opening race in Australia. The next aim for Sykes must be take his first 2012 season win, to add to the success he scored last year in Germany. He is currently only six points from championship leader Carlos Checa.
Team Pedercini Kawasaki will have David Salom and new SBK rider Leandro Mercado competing in Superbike, while in the Superstock 1000 FIM Cup Bryan Staring and Jeremy Guarnoni will represent the Pedercini name once more.
Imola podium man Loris Baz made a superb sprint to second place in the 1000cc Superstock category, taking his MRS Ninja ZX-10R to within 0.7 seconds of a race win in his return to the big Superstock class.
For all riders the chance to compete at Assen in a treat, with its unique layout and fast corners a true test of man and machine. Only the weather can be an unpredictable factor at Assen, situated as it is in the very north of the Netherlands.
Tom Sykes: "We showed we had some speed at Assen last year, in terms of sheer speed. But, with the new balance we have found on the Ninja ZX-10R, I am confident we can keep things going in an even better direction this year. I got a chance to test after Imola but the track conditions were very poor at Valencia, as bad as I have ever experienced there. Even at the end of two days I was leaving a big dust trail behind me down the straights. We tried out some things on the bike and we still found a couple of things on the bike that we can use later in the season, maybe. And of course every bit of information we discover in testing is very useful to us. I have some good people working with me and they seem to be able to put all the data together into a race package, which is a great asset to have. They are always thinking ahead."
More, from another press release issued by Kawasaki:
Sofuoglu Getting Back To Fitness Fast
Kawasaki DeltaFin Lorenzini riders Kenan Sofuoglu and Sheridan Morais are both going for gold at the Assen round, while another Ninja ZX-6R rider, Fabien Foret, sits on top of the points' rankings.
Sofuoglu won the first race of the year in Australia on his first ever Kawasaki ride, but after Foret secured the win for the Intermoto Step Kawasaki team last time out at Imola Fabien jumped into an impressive 16-point lead in the championship. Foret's early exploits have proved that it is not only the main official Ninja ZX-6Rs that can compete at the highest levels in WSS racing, as other Kawasaki-equipped teams are now taking a share of the silverware.
Sofuoglu, who used to live in the Netherlands, is a big fan of the Assen layout, having won there twice before in WSS. He is also enthused by his first experiences of the Ninja ZX-6R and thinks his machine will be a good match for the high speed curves and many banked corners that characterise this historic circuit in the north of the Netherlands.
A potential podium for Morais at Imola last time out was not to be but the determined South African rider has the top step in his sights as he makes the transition from Superstock to Supersport at absolutely full pace.
In the championship fight Foret leads with 45 points, with Sofuoglu third on 25 and Morais seventh on 16 after two rounds.
Kenan Sofuoglu: "Assen is not a bad track for me and I think it will be good for us this weekend. In the high-speed sections and smooth sections you need a lot of torque and we have good torque on our Kawasaki. I have been riding Supermotard at home in Turkey to stay as race fit as I can but I was still having a lot of pain in my knee until recently. My doctor in Turkey gave me some painkillers and with the help of those I can now ride for a lot of laps without too much discomfort. So it looks like everything is going well and I should not need another operation to remove the screw in my left knee. I am feeling better and better all the time. The only thing is that I feel tired today because I have done so many laps on my Supermotard bike! We lost some points at Imola but I am getting my confidence back, especially as I have been going well on the Supermotard bike. I hope I am 100% at the Assen race because I am really missing the feeling of winning again."
Sheridan Morais: "I think our chances are pretty good but obviously the question on everyone's mind is what the weather will be like. Assen does sort of have its own weather! I do not mind if it is raining because I can go pretty well in those conditions. I am just looking forward to the weekend whatever the weather does. Imola ended on a bit of a downer after a good start but that has just made me all the more determined and hungry for the weekend coming. We had hoped to get a small test in Italy before Assen but the weather been so bad here that we did not got the opportunity. Our bikes are really, really good at the moment and we stand a good chance at Assen."