WorldSBK champ Tom Sykes hits track ahead of 2022 BSB return

Tom Sykes hits the track for the first time on the PBM Ducati Panigale V4 R on the opening day of pre-season testing for 2022 BSB

Tom Sykes - Paul Bird Motorsport Ducati Panigale V4 R

Tom Sykes has made his first public track outing ahead of his much anticipated 2022 British Superbike Championship return with the Paul Bird Motorsport team.

The British rider - 2013 WorldSBK Champion and statistically one of the most successful Superbike riders of all-time - beats a path back to the domestic series for 2022, 13 years after his performances on the Rizla Suzuki in BSB earned him a shot on the world stage aboard the factory Yamaha.

Going on to achieve 34 wins and a record-breaking 51 pole positions - mostly with Kawasaki - over the coming years, Sykes’ homecoming will see him ride the official factory-assisted Ducati Panigale V4 R alongside double BSB champion Josh Brookes for what will be a celebrated homecoming.

Likely considered one of the favourites for the title. Sykes got his first taste of what to expect from the competition when he joined the majority of the year’s 34-strong entry list for the first pre-season test of 2022 at a sunny Snetterton.

Getting to grips with an electronics-free bike for the first time, Sykes nonetheless posted encouraging lap times to end the day ninth quickest, seven tenths off pacesetter Danny Buchan and just 0.011s adrift of the quickest Ducati rider, Tommy Bridewell. Brookes was 14th best, a further seventh tenths down on his new team-mate.

Relishing the opportunity to get stuck into his new challenge, Sykes was buoyed by the progress made.

“It is fantastic, the weather has been absolutely great here at Snetterton and I have to admit that I came here with an open mind. 

“I got straight out on the circuit and straight away it was very clear to understand, I just need to change my approach in some areas and a little bit of my perception on things because the style of circuits now are definitely quite different to the World Championships.

“I have just been getting the feeling with the PBM Ducati, starting my relationship with the guys in the garage, working through quite a few items, but only small items. 

“I have just been trying to learn and understand the new environment and try and set myself up to get all the little bits out the way and build slowly but surely.”

Sykes’ 2022 BSB return also sees him renew ties with the Paul Bird Motorsport team he raced with as part of the WorldSBK Kawasaki factory effort in 2010 and 2011. 

Though PBM was replaced with Provec Racing for 2012 onwards, Sykes would go on to lead Kawasaki’s return to the upper echelons of WorldSBK, missing out on the 2012 title by just half-a-point before clinching the manufacturer’s first crown in 20 years with his 2013 victory.