After such a solidly Ducati-dominated start to the season the competiton of who will end the season with the best overall package is now hotting up nicely.
Everybody knows how good Tom Sykes is in Superpole, and everybody knows he can win races and score podiums, but on a bike which is only in its eighth round of competitive racing? A Superpole win and then a second wet podium finish in succession, points at an already potent package in BMW corporate colours.
Sykes and Rea traded top spot at the end of Superpole at Donington, with many other potential fastest men joining in, but Sykes got it done, for a record 49th time for him, but only the second time in history for BMW.
Troy Corser, Misano, 2010, was the first and until today last rider to make sure an S1000RR was the fastest bike pre-race. Sykes played it down but his current results give him and BMW reason to share an optimistic future focus.
“I am relatively happy with the way things have gone because that is two times second in the wet and the only guys in front of us was Jonathan and we have all seen how strong he is in the wet, for a number of years,” Sykes told bikesportnews.com.
“We have shown good speed in the dry and to come away with that result in the wet, I am relatively pleased. The guys are doing a great job, from the bike set-up all the way to the electronics. It was very greasy and so it is so nice to have had two consecutive seconds.”
With Sunday forecast as dry, it was put to Sykes that he could be even stronger in the dry than his second place in the Race One wet conditions.
“I potentially share that feeling,” said Sykes. “We have had a good improvement with the chassis set-up in Misano and that has obviously continued and followed over to here. Our pace has been very consistent in the dry and quite fast.
Superpole was really, for me, quite impressive. Some guys used the SCX rear tyre yesterday and when I put that on today - what a difference. So I feel there is more to come on Sunday if it is a dry track.”
Sykes was unaware of just how few times – time, in reality – that BMW had taken pole in its previous full-factory semi-factory guises.
“No. One time? So I have equalled it, doubled it! Here we go, here we go!” said Sykes about becoming only the second man to put a BMW on pole. “It was not a perfect lap because I had to pass Mercado into one of the corners and then made a little bit of a mistake on a damp patch on another corner. It was not the perfect lap - but it was a good enough lap. I need to keep a little bit in the pocket…!”
Even after just over half a season back in WorldSBK big-time the whole BMW push seems to be overachieving, especially against an even faster Kawasaki a resurgent Yamaha and the much more powerful Ducati.
It makes Sykes proud of the group effort and his own part in it. And more may come soon, he thinks.
“It is a little bit of a pat on the back for me and it is just a reminder of my development skills and racing skills,” he said. “Obviously it is not just me, there is a great team and manufacturer behind me. But ultimately my experiences, I feel, helped the development of the S1000RR.
“So it is quite a proud moment to starting from a clean slate, like I did do in Kawasaki, and hopefully I can say on Sunday we have built a race-winning bike. A little bit early to say that but hopefully on Sunday I can say that.”
According to some in the silly season last year, BMW team manager Shaun Muir was told not to sign Sykes as Rea had beaten him four years in a row. Sykes, now with proof under his belt, disagrees with that opinion.
“I think I can prove many people wrong,” said Sykes. “The best thing is that the people who know, know. That is why I never worried too much (about not getting signed). I was beaten inside Kawasaki for a number of reasons, and I always said that the moment I am able to ride a bike how I want to again, I will be able to improve my results. Hopefully we can continue in that way.”