Not exactly the best kept secret in the WorldSBK paddock, but now Tom Sykes and the Kawasaki Racing Team will officially part ways at the end of the 2018 World Superbike Championship season.
The news has been a long-time coming for Sykes, as he has been increasingly more hostile towards Kawasaki over the past few months in interviews. With KRT clearly taking the side of Jonathan Rea, signing him to a new two-year contract, Sykes has been left to look for a new home.
Where that home will be though is of considerable speculation.
Sykes has been with the Kawasaki Racing Team for eight seasons now, plus one more with the Paul Bird Kawasaki team. In that time, he has taken Team Green to 34 race victories, 46 pole-position starts (a WorldSBK record), and 105 podium finishes.
Sykes also won the 2013 World Superbike Championship title in 2013, following up the heart-breaking runner-up position from 2012, where he lost the WorldSBK Championship to Max Biaggi by half a point.
“I feel the time has arrived; the moment to make a change in my career and seek new challenges,” said Sykes. “Having the motivation to push to your limits and that of your machine is all the more important when you look for the victory at every race and I feel I have given all I can within KRT.”
“I am now the best rider I have ever been, and I have the experience and performance to keep winning. So now I have decided to make a step away from the KRT project for 2019 and look for new goals and challenges.”
“I will now concentrate to finish on the podium for the last four rounds of 2018. I am determined to enjoy my racing and making this announcement effectively ends all speculation.”
“The timing of this big career decision is never easy but it is especially difficult as my personal life also faces big changes. Regarding this I feel the weight of pressure has been slightly lifted from my shoulders and I am sure 2019 will allow me to operate at full capacity.”
Rumors have the Yorkshire native moving to Yamaha machinery for 2019, though there are more than a few teams are interested in Mr. Superpole’s specific skill set.
With many more weeks of the World Superbike summer break to come, chances are that we won’t have to wait long to hear an official announcement. Stay tuned.