It was announced this week that ex-World Superbike champion Tom Sykes won’t be back at Kawasaki in 2019.
It’s been a bit of a rough go for Sykes in the Kawasaki team dating back to 2014 when his bid for the world title washed away with bad luck and teammate Lawrence Baz not following team orders at a pivotal moment in the championship which, Sykes suggested, caused him to lose out on the WSBK title.
Since then, Jon Rea has dominated the Kawasaki team, the results and the championship, and shows zero sign of slowing down. Inter-team relations between Rea, Sykes and Rea’s crewchief, ex-rider Pere Riba, have not been overly pleasant. Riba, even when he rode, was more a combination of a stern college professor and paramilitary operative than a typical happy go lucky World Supersport and Superbike rider of the era.
Sykes is a very capable rider and is a good guy. He’ll have more opportunities in WSBK assuredly, but he’d also fit in very well in MotoA.
The current rumor is that Leon Haslam will replace Sykes on the WSBK team. While that sounds borderline ludicrous, it also sounded very borderline ludicrous when Neil Hodgson left WSBK not on his own terms, returning to BSB, then opting in for a WSBK ride. After gaining his confidence back in BSB, Hodgson re-joined WSBK and won the world championship.
Sykes and Rea did, however, take part in an epic & fantastic video for Kawasaki on the new Ninja 400. It made Yamaha’s infamous Rossi/Maverick/air guitar video look like it was made by people who had never ridden a motorcycle, which it probably was …