Tom Sykes feels he has given himself a solid base from which to build a championship challenge after a brace of fifth place finishes in Australia. The Kawasaki rider trails Aprilia duo Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli by 23 points but believes the team have got the ZX-10R’s weakest track out of the way and expects to close the gap from now on, especially given the injury which hindered him here.

“In race one, honesty, I was very happy with that top five. It is a shame because we had the package to go a little bit stronger. I managed the beginning of the race but unfortunately in the last six laps, just before I passed Haslam, Davies made a nice pass into turn nine. Unfortunately his style is a little bit different from the one that I have set the Ninja ZX-10R for this weekend and that meant that when I was behind him I could not do exactly what I wanted to do with the bike. We were five seconds from the front, last year it was 12, so at one of our ‘worst’ circuits we have closed a gap and all while I have been riding injured. I think there is a bit more to come. Race two was completely different but I am happy to have left Phillip Island in fourth position. Our rear tyre appears to have been spinning on the rim and I had vibration and chatter, so that sacrificed corner entry. It was a shame because I could not use the bike to its full potential. I am happy considering that last week I was lying at the side of the track, 80% certain I would not be able to ride today. We got good points and we can build on this.”

Teammate Loris Baz had a bittersweet afternoon with a terrific ride to sixth in race one followed by a painful fall on the opening lap in race two after contact with Chaz Davies. The Frenchman escaped serious injury but rued the loss of points, believing he could’ve challenged Sykes towards the front.

“Race one was a really good result. I was faster in the race than practice but we did not change much on the bike. On a track like this when you are with other people with more experience it helps because they are pulling you along. I was really surprised, because I was not checking my lap times, that on lap 11 I looked and saw a 1’31.8. I was happy with that! I was coming back on Tom and was going to pass Haslam but when I came up on Haslam I had a problem with the tyre so I went really wide. I passed Haslam on the last lap so I am really happy and for a time I was fighting for fourth place. In race two I think Chaz lost the front going into MG, I got hit and my race was over. It was a shame, and I am sure I could have battled with Tom up front again but we have many more races this year to do it.”