Tom Sykes was forced to settle for sixth in race two at Phillip Island after failing to overcome the new World Superbike reverse grid rules. The Yorkshireman lined up seventh after his podium in race one but failed to slice through the field as decisively as Kawasaki team-mate Jonathan Rea who ultimately claimed victory, causing him to become detached from the leading group.
After the first round, Sykes trails Rea by 24 points in the championship standings but given his previous record around Phillip Island, he wasn’t too downhearted.
“It was a strange race today. I got a decent start, was happy with my track position but I struggled a little bit and couldn’t turn well enough really. I could not get alongside some of the others so I ended up about ninth or tenth after a while. The guys in front of me had a little bit of a scrap and the leaders got away. After nine or ten laps I was able to bridge the gap back to them. I think I did a fairly good job really but I had to use a little bit too much rear tyre. We have left here in third position in the championship. I got a bit carried away because I wanted more than third after yesterday’s podium but if somebody offered me that position before I came here, I possibly would have taken it. I love Phillip Island, love the people, love the track but we have never had two strong races here.”
Meanwhile, Rea was overjoyed with a perfect start to his 2017 campaign and with a bike he feels suits him more than before, the Ulsterman heads to Thailand full of confidence.
“Phillip Island was really rewarding and to win two last lap battles here means a lot because it is a such a hard track to lead from the front on. Whilst that 40th career victory means a lot it is more important to put a good score on the board for round one. When I went through to clean air in the lead with three or four to go I was worried that the other riders may be learning too much about the bike. I had to be sure just to change the lines up a little bit but on the last lap, from Siberia corner onwards, I just put my head down and completed a very good back section. I covered my line into the MG hairpin and got myself tucked in as well as I could on the front straight. There was not only one area where we found some pace in the winter tests; we generally just polished the bike. Nothing magic happened but I feel good about this bike. The way things have changed a little bit have suited me. I can ride less on the limit and we have more tyre left to fight with at the end of races, compared to last year.”