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Sykes secures 2023 WSBK return with Puccetti Kawasaki

One-time World Superbike champion Tom Sykes will return to the grid in 2023 following a year’s absence after signing a contract with the Puccetti Kawasaki team.

Tom Sykes

Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

As hinted by Motorsport.com in August, Sykes will replace Lucas Mahias at the satellite Kawasaki outfit owned by Manuel Puccetti, with the Frenchman dropped after two disappointing seasons in which he could finish no higher than seventh in a race.

The deal reunites Sykes with Kawasaki, the Japanese manufacturer with which he won the 2013 title and scored all 34 of his race wins in a successful stint lasting nearly a decade. 

After parting ways with Kawasaki following the 2018 season, the British rider joined forces with BMW, but the partnership failed to yield desired results and the two parties could not agree terms to continue racing together in WSBK this year.

This prompted Sykes to return to the British Superbike Championship with the Paul Bird Motorsport Ducati team, but the 37-year-old will be back in the WSBK paddock next season with the one-bike Puccetti squad.

“I’m really happy to be joining Kawasaki Puccetti Racing and returning to the WorldSBK paddock. For years, I’ve been impressed by the way in which Manuel Puccetti manages his team and by the mentality with which he goes racing, as well as the team’s infrastructure of course. All aspects that mean I’m highly motivated ahead of the 2023 racing season.

"I also have another opportunity, in that I’ll be part of the Kawasaki family once more, building on a relationship that has always been very solid. I can’t wait to get started on this project and get to know the whole team.”

Lucas Mahias, Kawasaki Puccetti Racing

Lucas Mahias, Kawasaki Puccetti Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Sykes will get to test the Kawasaki ZX-10RR after the conclusion of the 2022 WSBK season in December and Puccetti team owner Manuel Puccetti hopes his recruitment will help lift the competitiveness of the squad next year.

Sykes holds the record for most pole positions in WSBK having started 51 races from the front, most of which were scored during his time with Kawasaki.

“It’s truly a great pleasure for me and the team to welcome a World Champion like Tom Sykes,” said Puccetti.

“I’m sure that, together, we can learn and grow, also harnessing his significant testing experience to make our Ninja even more competitive. With a rider of his calibre, our goal can be nothing less than top five. 

“We have already arranged a test schedule, starting in Jerez in December, when we will start to mould our Ninja around Tom. We will then continue with tests in the wind tunnel and further track tests in January. The entire team is very excited to welcome a top rider like Tom.”

After being dropped by Puccetti, Mahias is expected to return to the World Supersport Championship, where he won the 2017 title with Yamaha.

Manuel Puccetti thanked Mahias for his time with the team, which included two seasons in World Supersport before he earned a ride in the top class in 2021.

“I want to thank Lucas Mahias for the four years we have spent together,” he said.

“We enjoyed success and satisfaction in Supersport while in Superbike, despite a positive performance overall, we had to deal with some injuries that prevented us from achieving the kind of results he and our team deserved. We wish Lucas all the very best for a bright future.”

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