Rizla Suzuki's Tom Sykes put on a superb show during his debut test with the British Superbike team at a cold and blustery Mallory Park today.
The young Yorkshire man lapped the 1.41-mile circuit consistently and worked on dropping his lap times to an impressive 56.567secs. Unfortunately the test had to be cut short due to torrential rain and high winds suddenly hitting the Leicestershire track.
"It has been really good today. It's just a shame the weather came in on us," said Sykes. "It was shaping up quite nicely. To be just half a second off the best times set by the BSB field in today's conditions was brilliant. For my first test in the UK in November I couldn't have asked for more."
This was Sykes's first opportunity to spend time with his new team and he felt comfortable from the off. He said: "I feel so at home with the team which is important to me as I like a good working atmosphere.My Rizla Suzuki has strong potential and I'm looking forward to the pre-season testing. I'm also looking forward to meeting my new team-mate Atsushi Watanabe; he doesn't speak much English but he seems to have a good sense of humour. He has been with Suzuki for a long time and he will bring a lot to the team and to me."
Team Manager Jack Valentine was equally-happy with the results and the team's progress as a whole. "I'm really pleased with the initial test," he said. "We have a superb set-up from the end of season and Tom is happy with it. We have had to make minimal changes to the bike for him, simply adjusting the handle bars and things like that. Chassis-wise it has been ok; the only change he wanted was slightly harder front forks."
Sykes's consistently-fast form impressed Valentine who knows there is a lot more to come from the 21-year-old. He said: "To be on a regular race tyre in cool conditions like we have had here today and to end up just 0.47secs off his fastest race lap time is really pleasing. I'm over the moon. He had a bit of an issue with his rear thumb brake just getting the right feeling with it, but once we sort that out he will be able to push for even faster lap times. The Bus Stop chicane was set-up a little bit differently today compared to how it should be for BSB and that will have taken a little bit of time away from him. But he was still impressive."
Both Sykes and Watanabe will be on the Suzuki stand at the International Motorcycle Show at the NEC when it opens to the public on November 23rd.