BMW’s Tom Sykes looks ahead to the 2021 season as he talks about the new bike, upgrades and more in a social media interview
As preparations ramp up for the 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship campaign and the off-season well and truly underway, Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) sat down on social media with his team to engage in a virtual question-and-answer session as he spoke about the new M 1000 RR, where the improvements came from and much, much more.
The 2013 Champion joined the BMW outfit in 2019 and remains with the team for a third campaign as the German marque brings the brand-new BMW M 1000 RR into WorldSBK competition and will be looking to push forward after a challenging 2020 campaign where he claimed one pole position but was unable to stand on the podium. Discussing goals for the new campaign with the new machine, Sykes said: “Of course, that is the ultimate target. I have to say I’m very much looking forward to it. In answer to the question, I believe there has been quite some upgrade with the M 1000 RR. I’ve heard a lot of great reports. It looks like I’m going to have to see for myself next week when we finally get to put it all on track in the south of Spain at Jerez. Looking forward to it all, blow out the cobwebs and see what we have got. We all share this target to become World Champion again and I just believe with the new upgrades, with the new M 1000 RR, this will put us back into the playing field and ballpark of where we need to be.”
Sykes’ 2013 Championship glory came with Kawasaki where he stayed until the 2019 season when he switched to BMW where he claimed four podiums. While he wasn’t able to add to this in 2020, he did claim a milestone 50th pole position in 2020. Discussing moving from Kawasaki to BMW and his aims, Sykes said: “I always like a challenge, and, for me, my ambition was to win a World Championship with at least two different manufacturers and certainly I have been patient but I’m very lucky to be with a great manufacturer with BMW. The whole of the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team is aiming towards that target and that goal. I do believe, with our current understanding of the previous few seasons, now with the new M 1000 RR, I do believe we have the key ingredients to put us back where we need to be and to continue our work and our development. Given time, like I said, I do believe we’ve had some big steps forward and I’m very excited. This, for me, will put us where we need to be.”
The German manufacturer are bringing a new machine to WorldSBK for 2021 as they introduce the BMW M 1000 RR, including a new engine to bring more power and a new aerodynamic package including winglets. Sykes, when asked about the new bike, said: “It was difficult last year. It was no secret that we were definitely underpowered, and this meant I was having to ask a lot more of the tyres in the middle of the corner which is not really what you need to do on a superbike. It’s all about getting the bike upright and using the power of the engine to do the talking. Power was certainly an issue. We still had some limitations on where we needed the chassis set up to be. But this is just time, this is development and certainly now with extra power… this is the biggest thing we’ll notice inside the team! But then on top of that, we’ve had small changes to where we needed to on the chassis/swingarm. We’ve learnt a lot about many other small things, electronics, suspension and these little key ingredients, when you put them all together, they make a big difference on the track. I’m excited to pick up with testing.
“Winglets have been a discussion inside the racing activity and, of course, like everything for me, I always feel whenever you do something in racing there’s always a positive and a negative. Doesn’t matter what you do, even if there’s one change there could be five positives but there’s always that negative. For me, with the winglets, I was pleasantly surprised at certain areas on the track which gives quite a big step in rider confidence and also in performance. There are still one or two areas where I need convincing, but I’ve got some great engineers around me to do that convincing. It’s only going to add to the package and, given that with more power, I’m hoping all these little steps help bring us closer.”
You can watch the full interview with Sykes on the BMW Motorrad Motorsport Facebook page.