The 13th and final round of the World Superbike Championship takes place in Portugal this coming weekend with both Kawasaki Superbike Racing Team riders Joan Lascorz and Tom Sykes out to finish off the season in style for the Paul Bird Motorsport Team.
Having run the official Kawasaki team since 2009, the Portimao race marks the end of an era for the Penrith-based team who have given the Japanese factory its most successful season in many years this year so a strong performance is expected to bow out in style.
For Yorkshireman Sykes, another race win and further Superpole success would add to the achievements already completed with the 2011 Ninja ZX-10R while for WSB rookie Lascorz, any race finish higher than fifth would be a season-best individual result for the Spaniard.
Greater points scoring consistency across the year saw Joan overtake Tom in the championship standings after the last round in France with Lascorz now in 11th place and Sykes 13th just nine points behind. Both riders still have realistic ambitions of finishing inside the top ten with only 12 points separating the four riders currently competing for that spot.
Tom Sykes: "Portimao is a bit of a unique circuit but it is a fantastic facility and a circuit that provides great racing. My aim is to be consistent throughout race weekend and make the most of the race package. The year has been up and down. I am not where I wanted to be in the table now but we have shown signs of real potential and we have certainly improved the package to run with the top five or six in the series. Where we are now is where I wanted to be in the middle part of the season. Of course we have reached maximum in qualifying, won a race and taken a fastest lap, so we have actually achieved the maximum in all aspects at certain times. I am refreshed after the last round and I am confident that the new Ninja ZX-10R should work well this weekend again."
Joan Lascorz: "This track is where I tested a WSB bike for the first time at the end of 2009 when Kawasaki let me try the bike so I have good memories. When we look at the season so far we can say in some ways it is not bad but we have also had some bad luck. It was great to see Tom winning in the wet in Germany and it was very motivating for me. Tom is so good in Superpole and I'm better over a long distance at the moment. I'm happy with some of the races this season but not too happy about Superpole. I need to find more force to push the bike harder for just one lap and I am sure I will improve in that area."
Paul Bird, Team Owner: "This weekend is the last one we will be involved in World Superbikes so I am demanding even more effort than normal so we can go out in style. There is no reason why we can't be challenging all weekend and hopefully Tom and Joan can deliver to reward the team for their hard work over the three years we have been involved with Kawasaki. The ZX-10R is a fantastic machine and I'm proud of what we have done in giving Kawasaki their most successful season in years and we hope to work together in future."
The opening race gets underway on Sunday 16th October at 12.00 CET with race two at 15.30 CET and British viewers can catch the action live on British Eurosport.