BMW’s Tom Sykes enjoyed his fourth WorldSBK podium of his first BMW season in race one at Magny-Cours and for several reasons.
One was simply how hard it was, with passes and counter-passes all over, and another that it was dry race, and therefore a level-footing test of a bike that is still relatively early in its development.
“It was such a pleasure to ride in that race,” Sykes told bikesportnews.com. “Credit to all of the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK team, as there were only two bikes in front of me, which have a mass of information here at this circuit.
Ten months into our programme we had 15 minutes of dry track time before that race. So to finish on the podium is really rewarding. I felt really quite comfortable on the chassis of the S1000RR. I got a good start but we got a bit boxed in, which was frustrating, but we had a good go and got clear track, kind of, one lap later.
“I really enjoyed the battle. I was just able to stay with the guys a little bit on the straight, and that put me in a lot better position for passing, and made my life a lot easier; a lot more margin for error.
“When I saw a couple of mistakes, one obviously being van der Mark falling, then four minus one equals a podium position. We still do not have – seems like - the initial lap time. We need to try and make some changes for tomorrow.”
An old team-mate, and an old enemy, Loris Baz was ahead of Sykes until near the end, and on lap 19 of 21, Sykes made his move and kept this advantage.
“I saw Loris was really starting to struggle with rear traction, but it looks like he has a fast engine as well, Loris,” said Sykes.
“I knew I had to pass him kind of halfway around the circuit to get a few corners to get a gap before the back straight and it looks like my plan worked. I got a bit caught up in Superpole this afternoon (he was sixth) so I feel that that race result makes up for that.”
The push toward Baz may have had a special impetus simply because it was Baz, who famously fell out with Sykes so hard he did not help him win what would have been a second World Championship when they were both KRT riders. Apparently not…
“No, no, no,” said Sykes. “Those emotions are put to bed. It took a long time to put them there but they are there. At the end of the day we are racing and I always like to show respect to my position on track as there is no room for taking too many liberties.
Whenever I make a pass I always try to make it calculated and clean. Unlike some. I wanted to make a podium so it was fantastic to see them ugly fuckers on the pitwall. In racing when you see your mechanics and your team hanging over the pit wall that is what it is all about. It is great to see all the hard work from those guy pay off.”
Sykes led early on but could not keep the lead, citing a bit more engine performance needed, a brake problem, and some traction issues, all of which were probably due to having only 15 minutes of dry practice.
“Given the fact that we were on the podium in that circumstance, it wasn’t really expected,” said Sykes. “I just enjoyed the race and it did not seem to be a very long race at all.”