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Sykes shows podium potential on World Superbike debut

RIZLA SUZUKIS Tom Sykes made a stunning World Superbike debut at Brands Hatch during round 10 of the Hannspree World Superbike Championship, finishing race two in seventh after retiring from third during race one due to a stone-hole in his radiator.

Sykes got off to an excellent start in the opening race and settled comfortably into fourth position. On the opening lap he was pressuring multiple World Champion Max Biaggi when a stone fired through his radiator holing it - forcing him to retire nine laps later while in third place.

The gritty 22-year-old put this behind him in race two and dug deep trading places once again with Corser and Championship leader Troy Bayliss. He was running as far forward as fourth place until the latter stages of the race eventually finishing a solid seventh.

Sykes and his Rizla Suzuki team will be in action again next weekend at Knockhill in Scotland for the eighth round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship where he intends to consolidate his third place in the title chase.

I have had an excellent weekend at Brands Hatch mixing it with the World Superbike regulars. The fans really got behind me and every time I came over the line I got a big cheer. I want to say a huge thank you to the Rizla Suzuki team for all their hard work; Im thrilled with what we have achieved. It was a superb opportunity and I have enjoyed every moment of it plus I have learned a lot from the other riders. I am now looking forward to Knockhill next weekend where I hope I can pick up from where I left off at Oulton Park.

Jack Valentine, Team Manager:
Im over the moon with how the weekend has gone. Tom did a great job and held his own on track amongst the Worlds best Im very proud of him. He and the Rizla Suzuki team have shown that they can perform at World level even when using a lower specification British Superbike engine. Ive been impressed with how hard everyone has worked this weekend; we have all enjoyed the experience.

I was gutted for him in race one but to compete for a podium position at World level really is an achievement. He is a very talented rider and that has shone through when it needed to, now it is back to BSB duty at Knockhill next weekend.

Race one results:
1: Ryuichi Kiyonari, JPN, (Honda) 36:18.607
2: Troy Bayliss, AUS, (Ducati) +0.137
3: Max Biaggi, ITA, (Ducati) +0.180
4: Yukio Kagayama, JAP, (Suzuki) +5.733
5: Fonsi Nieto, ESP, (Suzuki) +6.499
6: Carlos Checa, ITA, (Honda) +6.984
7: Max Neukirchner, GER, (Suzuki) +8.300
8: Troy Corser, AUS, (Yamaha) +10.732
9: Jakub Smrz, CZE, (Ducati) +16.547
10: Roberto Rolfo, ITA, (Honda) +16.569

Race two results:
1: Ryuichi Kiyonari, JPN, (Honda) 36:14.904
2: Noriyuki Haga, JPN, (Yamaha) +1.848
3: Troy Corser, AUS, (Yamaha) ~+8.883
4: Max Neukirchner, GER, (Suzuki) +11.180
5: Fonsi Nieto, ESP, (Suzuki) +12.928
6: Michel Fabrizio, ITA, (Ducati) +13.696
8: Carlos Checa, ITA, (Honda) +14.009
9: Jakub Smrz, CZE, (Ducati) +19.065
10: Lorenzo Lanzi, ITA, (Ducati) +19.864

Championship standings (round 10 of 14)
1: Troy Bayliss, AUS, (Ducati) 334
2: Max Neukirchner, GER, (Suzuki) 252
3: Troy Corser, AUS, (Yamaha) 242
4: Carlos Checa, ITA, (Honda) 233
5: Noriyuki Haga, JPN, (Yamaha) 230
6: Fonsi Nieto, ESP, (Suzuki) 183