After months of rumour and intrigue, it’s finally been confirmed that Tom Sykes, former World Superbike Champion, will be returning to BSB, to race a Ducati for Paul Bird Motorsport.
When we learnt that Leon Haslam was leaving WSBK behind and heading back to BSB, I thought there was a good chance that the 2022 BSB title might be heading the way of a Kawasaki rider (i.e. Haslam). But now, I’ve changed my mind. Because although Sykes never actually won the BSB championship, he went one better in 2013 when he won the WSBK Title.
In fact he’s had quite the stellar, 13-year WSBK career. From 349 races, he’s bagged 51 pole positions, 114 podiums and 34 wins. And now he’s bringing all that talent and experience back to Britain. You’d have to say he’d be a good bet for the title, especially on one of those PBM Ducatis.
Sykesy defiantly isn’t going to have it easy, on his MCE sponsored PMB Ducati Panigale, because he’ll be racing against three other British Superbike Champs (Leon Haslam, Josh Brookes and Tarran Mackenzie). And whilst Tom Sykes might have plenty of experience at World Superbike level, BSB is a different kettle of fish altogether. The tracks are all very different, as are the bikes thanks to completely different regulations. And then of course there’s the fact that Sykes has never actually raced a Ducati before, so there’s going to be a lot for him to learn.
But the lad is a class act on a motorcycle, so I don’t think it’ll take him long. He proved he could still ride a British Superbike back in 2010 when he entered the Brands Hatch BSB round as a wildcard and took a brace of wins.
I am very excited and motivated for this great opportunity to race in BSB with PBM. In terms of a domestic championship, it certainly doesn’t get any better . The level of competition is obviously high and there is some great talent. To be back with PBM is fantastic. It’s a team I’ve been a part of before, both in BSB and in WSBK and one that has all of the pedigree for the task ahead. I will also be riding a Ducati for the first time in my career after riding for five other manufacturers in the Superbike category. This alone adds more excitement and motivation to the pot! It will also be interesting to explore the different characteristics of the bike in BSB with the different technical regulations. Finally, to be part of PBM and Ducati in BSB, racing in front of the home crowd makes me really happy.
The news comes a few days after we heard the confirmation that Michael Dunlop will be racing for PMB on the roads this year. With Sykes, Brookes and Dunlop all riding in his colours, you can almost guarantee Paul Bird’s going to taste some champagne in 2022. But whether he’ll be taking the BSB crown off McAMS Yamaha at the end of the season remains to be seen.
The first official BSB test is at the end of the month (26th – 27th March 2022), so we’ll have a better idea of how the team will fair after that.