The Englishman came close to his first double race win in SBK with a first and a second place finish at Assen, making himself the single highest points scorer of the day with 45. He is now on a total of 83 points so far, the same as two riders above him.
Young French rider Loris Baz scored two good results in the dry condition that blessed race day in the Netherlands, the second of which was a strong third place. He had to work for it all race long under pressure from other riders. He eventually left Assen sixth in the championship and 58 points.
Superb preparation in the team garage and then a similar performance from Sykes when the flag dropped in race one saw him lead every single one of race one’s 22-laps, the English rider pulling away and setting a new lap record of 1’35.893 on lap two. He was over eight seconds clear at the end for a popular win and Kawasaki’s first victory at Assen since 2006 which was delivered by BSB star, Chris Walker.
In the second race Sykes led for 18 of the 22 laps and despite a late charge to try and take a double win he lost out by only 0.089 seconds. Baz got boxed in a little off the start of race one but carried good pace and re-passed some riders to take a fifth place, matching his best of the season to that point. He was just less than six seconds from a podium finish.
In race two he was on better starting form and pushed hard to stay in third place for most of the second half of the race, and eventually score a well-deserved third.
Tom Sykes:“Almost the perfect race weekend for us after winning Superpole as well. We have made progress after a slow start to the season so we will build more momentum now to move it all forward again. The bike was working well and was very consistent today. When Eugene came past me in race two I realised it was much easier to follow than to lead round here and it was just unfortunate that exiting the final chicane on the last lap I hit the kerb on the inside when I was trying to pass him, and I was out of the seat.
It would have been great to win race two as well but I am happy with the day and we had and the great support at Assen from all the Kawasaki fans and some Tom Sykes fans.
We have some great people who fight in my corner and they have given me a strong package so that I can do quite a lot of what I want to do with the bike. That first race was nice and believe me, to see that pit board gap get bigger every lap is magical for a rider.”
Loris Baz: “The last lap was just too long for me because I wanted to get it finished. We went top five and then onto the podium today in dry conditions so I just want to thank all the team and the people in Kawasaki who have made a good job on this bike to make it better for my style and my weight.”
In the Superpsort race, Kawasaki Mahi Racing Team India riders Kenan Sofuoglu and Fabien Foret were once more in the leading mix, with Kenan second and Fabien third at the Assen round meaning the Frenchman extended his championship lead.
After it looked like a three rider fight to the finish Sofuoglu and eventual race winner Sam Lowes ended up together on the approach to the final corners, with Lowes making a move that left Kenan just behind and only 0.026 seconds from his second race win of the year.
This was Kenan’s second podium finish in three rounds and puts him on equal points with officially third placed rider Lowes. Fabien had to give best to the leading duo but his fast pace when it counted kept him on the podium in third and an impressive championship leader after three rounds. He raced with WSS rookie Jack Kennedy for a time but eased away at the race mid-point to a comfortable third, over ten seconds ahead of the fourth place rider. He leads by an extended five points now from Michael van Der Mark.
Kenan Sofuoglu: “I think the championship will be a fight between the three riders we have seen on the podium at Assen. I had a hard fight right to the last lap and I expected to win it. Today Sam was better than me, and this I have to accept sometimes. Always I try to win but sometimes it is not possible. Also racing is about the package and I think we did not get the very best set-up possible on the bike because we lost one day to the rain on Friday. I have two podiums so far and equal third position so it is not so bad.”
Fabien Foret: “I had a good race with Kenan and Sam but they were a little bit faster than me. Also it took too much time to get to the speed of the race pace so I had to push hard and then I paid for it a little at the end. But it is another podium finish and I am grateful to the team because they tried their best this weekend and for sure we will try to take an even better result next time.”
See more news plus add your own comments, on the Kawasaki News UK Facebook page
Follow Kawasaki and your favourite riders on Twitter @Kawasaki-news