Tom Sykes’ convincing 2013 FIM Superbike World Championship on his Kawasaki Racing Team Ninja ZX-10R was the culmination of years of work from both Sykes and the team.
Hear what Sykes had to say about the 2013 season and the work he put in to become World Superbike champion.
Q: Obvious question first, how do you feel now to be World Champion?
A: Words cannot describe how I feel. Since the previous round at Magny Cours there are moments where my mind started dreaming and it was magical to even dream I could be world champion. But that was maybe 2% of what I felt after I crossed the line and it became a reality. I was shaking and could hardly even operate the little Ninja. I am on top of the world and nothing can describe that feeling. I have worked so hard to get here. There have been critics in the past but I think I have answered them by lifting that lovely trophy.
Q: How sweet is it after missing out on the championship by half a point in 2012?
A: It only made us stronger. There is no secret in that. I was very motivated in the winter last year. I had some difficult years in Superbike, 2009 and ‘10 and ‘11, but those years moulded me into who I am. It did handicap my career path but I am also grateful for those years because it helped me deal with situations like this. Last year was a big shame and you can look back and see that this year it could almost be double world champion. I lost out to a very talented rider in Max Biaggi back then, and we all know the level of Max. To miss it by only half a point? I was very proud to have got that far but to win it with a race to go this year I am even more proud.
Q: Along with the pure joy is there a it more relief than anything else, going back to how close it was last year?
A: I think when you put it like that it does go back to last year. Last year was like wahhhh, yes! Then, oh no…! There have been people who said that 2012 was Tom Sykes’ best chance and Kawasaki’s best chance has gone out of the window. But I though differently about that.
Q: What about being the first man to win for Kawasaki since Scott Russell in 1993, were you aware of the significance?
A: I am not a man who looks at statistics at home in the magazines or whatever. When I get home there will be a few things I need to do in my house. It is only when people like the media put statistics to me that I feel even more proud to be the man associated with putting Kawasaki on the winning map. All my family share that moment. Behind closed doors I can be difficult because racing is my life. We have all worked to get here. Twenty years since Scott Russell did the business, so Kawasaki has had a little bit of a drought, but they are back in business baby.