With Jonathan Rea all signed up with Kawasaki for the next two years the next big question since that point onwards was when would Tom Sykes re-sign?
Asked directly at Misano, Sykes replied, “It is still too early to say. I get asked a lot of questions and the thing is that Jonathan signed very early – so of course the natural question is what I am doing. But for the moment we will focus on the racing and sure we will try to sort the real business end out in the near future.” He affirmed, however, he was in discussion with Kawasaki. “Always talking and trying to find a solution but at this moment the focus is on the racing,” was his final word, but it was also known that Kawasaki’s chief financial officer was in town to speak to Sykes, to thrash out some aspects of a potential new deal.
Financial considerations are always confidential but there may be more to Sykes’ non-signing until now than just money. With Sykes and his crew reputedly largely responsible for the success shown by Kawasaki’s WSBK machine in the past few years, and with 2015 champion Jonathan Rea now on an all-new model that he has only recently had development input to, Sykes has said before that the latest bike has had a lot of his input.
He may therefore be seeking to control more aspects of his deal than just money, to keep his opinion in the overall development loop. It is still bewildering to many in the paddock why Sykes had not signed even on the eve of the Misano races, as the Kawasaki is without doubt the most coveted seat in the whole WorldSBK paddock, but Sykes has been notorious for protracted contract negotiations in the past.
By Gordon Ritchie