Sykes bat­tles sick­ness

Brit’s race day hero­ics

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - GOR­DON RICHIE WSB REPORTER

Jonathan Rea might have se­cured the dou­ble win at Assen, but it was Tom Sykes who pro­duced the hero­ics with two sec­ond place fin­ishes de­spite re­main­ing un­well.

Since the pre­vi­ous round of the se­ries at Aragon one month ago, the 31-yearold has had two spells in hospi­tal to try to re­solve a se­ri­ous in­testi­nal and stom­ach com­plaint. He’s un­der­gone count­less tests and days of fast­ing for a con­di­tion that has so far not been fully di­ag­nosed.

Lead­ing up to Assen there were doubts about his abil­ity to ride, never mind per­form at the high­est level, but clearly no-one men­tioned that to Sykes who was fast out of the blocks, dip­ping un­der the lap record in the open­ing free prac­tice ses­sion. In Su­per­pole he took sec­ond spot, but ended up start­ing from pole when Rea was de­moted three grid po­si­tions fol­low­ing his con­tro­ver­sial on and off-track in­ci­dent with Chaz Davies (see page 74).

In race one Sykes was al­ways on for a podium but in­her­ited sec­ond af­ter Davies’ Du­cati ex­pired on the penul­ti­mate lap.

But it was race two where the York­shire­man stunned the paddock and came close to de­thron­ing mod­ern­era Assen king Rea, only los­ing out in a clas­sic last chi­cane fight.

Overnight changes saw Sykes go

from 4.5 sec­onds down in race one to just 0.025 sec­onds in race two as they jousted through the chi­cane in front of the main grand­stand.

Speak­ing to MCN, Sykes said: “Today I felt we had a bike ca­pa­ble of win­ning. We were there to take the win if Jonathan made any mis­takes and that was very nearly the case in the last chi­cane.”

Sykes had been in hospi­tal for more checks only a few days be­fore Assen, and it was look­ing like he may not be racing at all.

“In the week af­ter Aragon I lost four ki­los in five days – so that is quite an ex­cep­tional diet. My brother is keen to know the se­cret! But hon­estly, af­ter that in­cred­i­ble weight loss it has been a flat line and a small im­prove­ment.

“This week­end the sick­ness feel­ing has come back again but of course you al­ways get some of that with nerves and pres­sure. But never like this. It is still a lit­tle bit of a guess­ing game as to what the prob­lem is, and there was a big con­cern at one stage that it could be some­thing quite, quite se­vere, and so I was re­ally up­set at that point - but hope­fully that is not the case,” Sykes told MCN on Sun­day.

“There will be more re­sults this week now, so fin­gers crossed we can get ev­ery­thing sorted. The ill­ness is def­i­nitely tak­ing the fuel from the en­gine and I am not able to take what I need from my food and liq­uid at this mo­ment. Over a race week­end that takes its toll. Luck­ily I have a comfy bed and I did a lot of sleep­ing in the mo­torhome, which is un­like me. I am not only sleep­ing at night, I am sleep­ing in the day. I am like a wom­bat now!”

Sykes needed all the rest he could get af­ter race one, as he re­called with a de­gree of gri­mace in his tone. “Yes­ter­day when I got off the bike my legs could hardly sup­port me. It was a big wake-up call but we al­ways try to find a step for­ward even con­sid­er­ing the phys­i­cal con­di­tion.”

‘Yes­ter­day when I got off the bike my legs could hardly sup­port me’ TOM SYKES

De­spite his ill­ness Sykes piled on the pres­sure in his tus­sle with Rea

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