IN BRITISH SUPERBIKES
Rizla Suzuki's Tom Sykes finished the 2008 Bennetts British Superbike Championship in fourth place after putting on a brave and battling performance at the 12th and final round at Brands Hatch in Kent yesterday.
In the second race he was holding fifth place when, with five-laps remaining, his Rizla Suzuki simply stopped. The Yorkshireman desperately tried to restart it but to no avail and he could only watch as third in the Championship cruelly slipped from his grasp to Honda's Cal Crutchlow. Rizla Suzuki rider Atsushi Watanabe finished 14th.
In the first race, in bright glorious sunshine, Sykes slotted into sixth place at the first corner and held station until the chequered flag at the hilly 1.1986-mile Indy circuit, unable to overtake due to the fast tight nature of the track. Watanabe started 12th and fell back to 16th before two retirements promoted him to 14th and a points-scoring finish, giving him equal 14th place in the Championship.
2008 British Superbike Champion Shane Byrne won both races on a Ducati.
While it is the end of the British Superbike Championship, Rizla Suzuki will be on track again at the annual Race of the Year at Mallory Park in Leicestershire next Sunday, October 19th. Sykes will be the lone Rizla Suzuki racer and is hoping to bring the silverware back to the team for the third consecutive year.
"That's not the way I wanted to finish the 2008 season and it is not what the Rizla Suzuki team deserved. My bike simply stopped in the second race with a few laps to go and there was nothing I could do. I am an optimist by nature though and will take the positive from finishing fourth in the Championship and look forward from here. A big thank you to PJ, Stuart, Simon and Dan my technicians for their hard work this year - well done boys, you are brilliant. Thanks also to all the fans and Rizla Suzuki for what has been a great BSB campaign."
"In race one I hade lack of grip and pushed as hard as I can. It was difficult to make drive out of corners onto the straights. For race two we made setting changes to my Rizla Suzuki which I hoped would help but the feeling remained the same - no grip. This is not the best results to finish the season; I had hoped for better. I have enjoyed my first season in BSB and learnt much; thank you to Rizla Suzuki for all its support."
Jack Valentine - Rizla Suzuki Team Manager:
"We came here wanting to finish on a high note but instead we are all disappointed with fourth in the Championship. Tom went out fighting as usual and the fact is we have had a cracking season and will not let this final round tarnish what has been a cohesive, well-executed campaign that has brought the team three wins, numerous podiums and World Superbike champagne as well.
"Thank you to Tom Sykes and Atsushi Watanabe for their determination and effort this year - they have both been a pleasure to work with and I wish them all the best for the future. Thanks also to all of my team; they are winners to a man and I respect every one of them.
"Last but not least, I'd like to thank all of the Rizla Suzuki team sponsors and fans for their support this year. Our plans are already well laid for 2009 and we look forward to challenging for the British Superbike title; we hope all of the sponsors and fans will join us again and share in the success."
Race One Result:
1: Shane Byrne (Ducati) 23:21.7172: Cal Crutchlow (Honda) +1.8923: James Ellison (Honda) +2.1444: Leon Haslam (Honda) +2.1905: Leon Camier (Ducati) +5.7476: Tom Sykes (Rizla Suzuki) +6.5597: Michael Rutter (Ducati) +19.3358: Simon Andrews (Yamaha) +20.0029: Jon Kirkham (Yamaha) +23.52810: Tristan Palmer (Honda) +25.24114: Atsushi Watanabe (Rizla Suzuki) +25.258
Race Two Result:
1: Shane Byrne (Ducati) 23:21.1242: Leon Haslam (Honda) +1.8173: Leon Camier (Ducati) +4.3054: Cal Crutchlow (Honda) +8.5615: James Ellison (Honda) +9.7836: Michael Rutter (Ducati) +11.4007: Simon Andrews (Yamaha) +24.2658: John Laverty (Ducati) +25.8449: Gary Mason (Honda) +25.86710: Jon Kirkham (Yamaha) +33.10114: Atsushi Watanabe (Rizla Suzuki) +41.393DNF: Tom Sykes (Rizla Suzuki)
1: Shane Byrne (Ducati) 4742: Leon Haslam (Honda) 3573: Cal Crutchlow (Honda) 3184: Tom Sykes (Rizla Suzuki) 3165: Leon Camier (Ducati) 3066: Michael Rutter (Ducati) 2567: James Ellison (Honda) 2308: Simon Andrews (Yamaha) 1769: Michael Laverty (Suzuki) 14110: Tristan Palmer (Honda) 11114: Atsushi Watanabe (Rizla Suzuki) 6914: Scott Smart (Kawasaki) 69.