The Yamaha Motor Italia World Superbike Team has signed promising young British rider Tom Sykes for the 2009 season with the option to extend for 2010. The 23yr old from Huddersfield in England will ride the all new 2009 Yamaha YZF R1 in next year's World Superbike Championship.
Sykes has proved to be a competitive and talented rider in the 2008 British Superbike Championship, showing an intelligent and mature riding style beyond his years. Two wildcard rides in WSB this year have seen him qualify an impressive sixth at Brands Hatch and seventh on the grid at Donington. At Brands he went on to score a sixth place in race two, whilst at Donington he had a storming race one, finishing up in second place after some close racing with Championship leader Troy Bayliss.
Sykes raced in British Supersport for four years from 2003 to 2006, ending second in the championship in the final year. In 2007, his first year in British Superbike, Sykes finished the season a respectable sixth in the standings, and was named Rookie of The Year. He is currently second in the 2008 championship and the first rider on a four-cylinder machine.
Massimo Meregalli - "Tom Sykes is an excellent signing for the team, he is the most interesting young rider in circulation in the racing world this year. I've had time to appreciate his riding qualities during the season and Brands Hatch was the confirmation of his talent for me. His brilliant result at Donington strengthened our conviction. We know that there will be much work next season because the new YZF-R1 arrives and it will have to learn the tracks. We have a lot of faith in being able to obtain good results quickly and the presence of a young person with a lot of ambition will give new motivation to the team."
"We are delighted to be able to offer Tom the next step in his racing career with Yamaha's World Superbike Team" said Yamaha Motor Europe Racing Division Manager Laurens Klein Koerkamp. "We are sure he has the qualities needed to be a star rider of the future on the world stage. With the launch of the new R1 just three days ago, we are very excited about the potential for next year. We are looking forward to developing both the rider and the bike for championship success in 2009 and beyond."