Tom Sykes enters the next World Superbikes round – to be run in Russia this weekend – as the first Kawasaki rider in 19 years to lead the World Superbike standings. Reigning champion Scott Russell and his Kawa got back on top in the points after a double victory in Japan in 1994, before eventually losing the title to Carl Fogarty.
Sykes also has the chance to equal Ben Spies’ record of seven consecutive pole positions, as he has won every Superpole from Round 2 onwards this year. Back in action after a perfect Italian weekend at Imola, Sykes hopes to maintain his championship form at the Moscow Circuit that saw him finishing 1st and 2nd in the two races there in 2012.
Unseated from the lead for the first time in 2013, Aprilia factory racer Sylvain Guintoli hopes to step up his game again to slow down Sykes’ impressive momentum. The 31-year-old Frenchman had a difficult time in Moscow in 2012, with a disappointing non-finish and an 11th place on race day.
A vital opportunity to stay in contention for the title awaits his Aprilia team mate Eugene Laverty and BMW works rider Marco Melandri, each aiming to narrow the gap (45 and 53 points respectively) from the top after Round 7.
Unfortunately South African Supersport rider Sheridan Morais is forced to miss his Russian race as he concentrates on recovering from a shoulder injury he has been carrying since a crash late in April.
Morais crashed heavily in Assen during practice and damaged the soft tissue of his shoulder. His doctors suggested a two-month lay-off from racing as the minimum time to recover, so his PTR team will run Spanish-based American Kenny Noyes as a replacement.
South African fans can still count on Mathew Scholtz, however, who is entered on a Suzuki GSX-R600. – Star Motoring