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Could Tom Sykes remain on the 2022 WorldSBK grid after all?

2013 WorldSBK Champion Tom Sykes might be linked to a return to BSB but there is one plucky WorldSBK team fighting hard to sign the British rider too

Tom Sykes - BMW Motorrad WorldSBK


Tom Sykes could opt to remain in the WorldSBK Championship this season after it emerged he has been approached by the Outdo Team Pedercini outfit to join its privateer outfit in 2022.

The Briton - WorldSBK Champion in 2013 - has been mulling his increasingly slim options for the season ahead after exiting the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK team when he was replaced by Scott Redding.

Going on to turn down a secondary offer from BMW to compete with its satellite Bonovo set up, Sykes has more recently been linked with a switch to the British Superbike Championship with VisionTrack Ducati or MotoAmerica with HSBK Ducati, though the latter seat looks set to be going the way of Danilo Petrucci instead.

While it is likely VisionTrack Racing - run by the leading Paul Bird Motorsport team - would give him a competitive, title-challenging opportunity in BSB, Sykes has made no secret of his desire to continue internationally with the right deal.

However, with only privateer teams left with seats available, stalwart outfit Team Pedercini is making an ambitious play for the 34-year old. 

“With Tom there has always been a great relationship of friendship and mutual respect,” Lucio Pedercini told GPOne.com. “At the moment he is looking around to understand what could be the best choice for 2022. 

“The thing I can say is that I am interested in bringing him back to Kawasaki after his experience in BMW. We have spoken in the last few weeks and on my part there is the maximum availability to try and realise this operation.”

Why Sykes-Pedercini WorldSBK deal makes more sense than you’d think

Based on recent results, a move to Team Pedercini would seem to be quite the grid drop for Sykes (though his sheer pace over a single lap means he could perform some miracles in qualifying regardless) but the Italian outfit does have a fair amount going for it… chiefly, ambition.

To say Pedercini is a stalwart of WorldSBK is a major understatement. Founded in 1993, Pedercini rode for his eponymous team until 2006 - taking in GP and WorldSBK starts - before reverting to a team manager role.

In that time its form has been determined by a heady cocktail of machine competitiveness (it ran Kawasaki during its low years) available to it and budgetary pressures. 

It has not been all bad though and it is easy to forget Pedercini was a regular top ten contender in 2019 with Jordi Torres. However, the team was stung badly by the withdrawal of a title backer late in the day in 2020, which cost it Torres’ ride, while Sandro Cortese was showing good promise on its single entry before a career-defining injury ruled him out.

However, with the right rider, Pedercini has punched above its weight with the likes of David Salom and Ayrton Badovini, notching up impressive giant-killing results on a shoestring over time.

In Sykes, Pedercini would get a rider who knows the ZX-10RR inside out, while Kawasaki might feel compelled to throw some cash its way in return for getting one of the sport’s most respected and hard-working development riders back on its bike.

Moreover, the Briton - who might have out-scored Michael van der Mark last season were he not injured - shouldn’t dismiss the benefits of competing as more of an underdog in which to market himself as a rider still capable of top results in WorldSBK.

If Sykes does see his future in WorldSBK still, it will come down to a choice between him returning via what would need to be title success in BSB, or attempt to exceed expectations right under WorldSBK teams’ noses with Pedercini.

He’d certainly be very warmly welcomed by the Italian team if he did take the plunge…

“Having a rider like Sykes would be a dream. I think with Tom we could show the true potential of the bike and - above all - the team. In recent seasons our results have not been brilliant, but with a frontline rider we could certainly make a leap forward to fight for something important.”