Wednesday 10 October 2012 Updated: 10/10 14:47
TOM SYKES insisted his World Superbike season would be remembered fondly despite agonisingly missing out on his debut championship title by just half a point – the smallest margin in the competition’s history.
The Leamington-based Kawasaki Racing Team rider arrived at the final round of the campaign needing something of a motorbike miracle and with the help of his Italian rival Max Biaggi he very nearly delivered it.
Sykes trailed by 30.5 points with only 50 available however, at the end of a breathless weekend at Magny Cours, Biaggi’s winning margin was just half a point.
Having claimed his ninth pole position of a memorable season, Sykes threw everything at the Roman Emperor.
In race one Biaggi took a tumble as Sykes finished in third place to leave the margin at 14.5 points heading into the season finale.
The Grinner promptly took victory in the second contest howeve,r with Biaggi claiming fifth spot – the lowest he could finish to take the title – victory went to Sykes’ rival.
Having ended last season 13th in the standings, Sykes was quick to point to how far he has come in the 2012 season.
However, he was unable to shake off the question ‘what might have been?’ in his post-race assessment.
“We were on pole, took a new circuit record, got a podium and then a win and pulled back 30 points on Maxi,” he said. “Not easy against a rider of his level.
“Yes, obviously there is a massive disappointment on one hand because we were only half a point from the world championship.
“But on the other hand, being realistic, we are very happy and we have – by far – overachieved on expectations this year.”
Biaggi’s skin-of-the-teeth victory was his sixth world title of his career but the 41-year-old was well aware post-race that Sykes is the coming man.
At 27, Sykes has 14 years on his Italian rival – who crashed out in a wet race one in France – and Biaggi is tipping him to one day follow him to a global crown.
“Psychologically, it was very tough,” said Biaggi. “I still don’t know what happened in race one as I wasn’t too hard on the brakes.
“Race two it was a drying track, which is the most difficult. But I’m here, I’m happy but not to take anything away from Tom. It was my time but next it will be his time.”
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