Sykes: 'Unfair' to compare BMW development with Kawasaki

Tom Sykes says it is “not fair” to compare BMW’s current World Superbike results with that of Kawasaki’s during its rebuilding years in the early 2010s.

Sykes: 'Unfair' to compare BMW development with Kawasaki

Sykes joined a struggling Kawasaki factory team in 2010, and remained with the manufacturer as it transitioned from Paul Bird Motorsport to the Barcelona-based Provec outfit that currently runs the two works ZX-10RRs in 2012.

That move laid the foundation for a dominant spell for the Japanese manufacturer, with Sykes winning the riders’ title in 2013 and finishing a close second to Aprilia’s Sylvain Guintoli the following year.

Kawasaki’s stranglehold on the championship continues to this day thanks to the addition of Jonathan Rea to the team in 2015, but Sykes quit the team three years ago following friction with the Ulsterman to join BMW’s returning WSBK project in 2019.

The German marque enjoyed a fruitful first season back in the championship, with Sykes scoring four podium finishes over the course of the campaign, but BMW has failed to appear on the rostrum since then - despite both Sykes and teammate Eugene Laverty qualifying on pole once each in 2020.

Sykes says that while Kawasaki had the luxury of unlimited testing and development parts a decade ago, BMW’s progress has been curtailed by strict regulations in current-day WSBK - making a comparison between the two marques invalid.

“I find myself in a kind of similar scenario in terms of development [at BMW as Kawasaki in early 2010s],” said the 34-time WSBK race winner. “Yes, from the development side it all happened very, very quickly at Kawasaki. 

“But obviously things were quite so different back then with the testing regulations. I think I was doing more laps than I was having hot dinners at the time. Testing was not an issue, very rarely I would see myself on [my own] bed. Definitely had a lot of kilometres. Technical restrictions were also not nowhere near where they are now. 

“So, I don’t think it’s fair to compare the two in that respect. Now there are a lot of restrictions in testing, there are a lot of restrictions on technical items and what you can and can’t do.”

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Sykes, who is now entering his 13th full season in WSBK, believes BMW’s doesn’t get enough praise for what it has achieved since it announced it returned to the championship in November 2018.

He also feels the coronavirus-disrupted 2020 calendar, which featured seven rounds in just over two-and-a-half months, prevented BMW from building on the results it achieved in its maiden campaign.

“What BMW has done in such a short space of time, I don't think it gets the credit it deserves,” he said. “On the big picture, the whole project doesn’t get the recognition it deserves because when we started, it was a late start anyway - December 2018 [and in] February we had to go to Philip Island [for the first race].

“We had the 2019 [season] when things were difficult and we needed to keep that momentum going in 2020. That’s what you need. You need to be having those race weekends, certainly having them in spaces so you give the guys time to react.

"[But] that was stopped with the COVID [situation] and now we are having to gather up momentum again. Certainly hasn’t been the roots that we wanted in this project, but we’ll keep trying to be where we want to be.”

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