Sykes seals maiden World Superbike crown
Tom Sykes is the new World Superbike Champion after producing a calm and collected ride at the final round of the season in Jerez.
The Brit came into the final round in Spain within reach of his maiden crown and a third place finish in race one was enough to secure the title.
The achievement comes five years after his first world championship season and presents Kawasaki with its first world champion for 20 years.
Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty fended off BMW’s Marco Melandri for victory in race one.
The Irishman showed his class again to beat newly crowned champion Sykes to record his second double win of the season in race two but in the end it was all about Sykes.
“I’m absolutely over the moon, so emotional. I was shedding a few tears on the slowing down lap, I was shaking,” Sykes said.
“Luckily this is our moment. I was so close last year. I’ve been waiting a long time for this and she’s finally here.
“There have been lots of sacrifices to get here. Finally we’re here and what a feeling.”
Polesitter Laverty led the field from the start of race one with Italian Melandri in hot pursuit.
The pair soon opened up a healthy gap on Sykes in third and became involved in an almighty scrap for the lead.
The battle for the race victory came down to the final two laps when Melandri grabbed the lead at turn six on the penultimate lap.
However, Laverty responded with a highly impressive move around the outside at the final corner of the last lap to clinch the victory.
Sykes stayed out of trouble to wrap up the championship by finishing in third.
Sylvain Guintoli came home in fourth ahead of Toni Elias, while Australia’s Mark Aitchison piloted his Pedercini Kawasaki to 10th at the flag.
With the championship title safe and secured, Sykes had nothing to prove in race two but that didn’t stop him as the Kawasaki man bounded into the lead at the start for race two. This time Laverty slotted into second and began to hassle the new world champion.
Sykes soaked up the pressure well but on lap 15 Laverty pulled a move right out of the top draw to take the lead and it proved to be crucial.
Laverty’s pace was too much for Sykes, who settled for second, while the Aprilia rider notched up his ninth win of the season.
Guintoli completed the podium in a lonely third while Aitchison ended his year on a high with a second top 10 finish in ninth.