Sykes battles sickness
Brit’s race day heroics
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