Superbikes - Sykes: 'Massive weight off my shoulders'

Defending champion Tom Sykes has insisted there is a “massive weight off my shoulders” ahead of the opening round of the Superbike World Championship in Australia next weekend.

Superbikes - Sykes: 'Massive weight off my shoulders'

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Britain's Tom Sykes (AFP)

Last year the 28-year-old became the fourth British winner of the championship after Carl Fogarty, Neil Hodgson and James Toseland, clinching the title at the final round at Jerez.

Sykes, who finished runner-up to Max Biaggi two years ago, will be riding for the Kawasaki Racing Team again in 2014 alongside teammate Loris Baz.

“Some people have always said it’s harder to win the title the second time around but I’m feeling quite the opposite,” Sykes told British Eurosport.

“I feel there is a massive weight off my shoulders. In 2012 I missed the championship by half-a-point and last year was a big year and finally we were able to do it. I certainly feel more relaxed this year and even more motivated. I can really focus on the task ahead.”

Sykes faces new challenges this season; including a revamped Superpole format and limits on engine changes.

Reigning British Superbike champion Alex Lowes will also be looking to impress after signing for Voltcom Crescent Suzuki alongside 2013 runner-up Eugene Laverty.

When asked about the threat of Lowes, Sykes said: “Obviously he’s done a great job in the British championship. It’s nice coming to World Superbikes as reigning British champion; it’s certainly a good situation for himself.

“In testing his times have been good but we’ll see what happens in the races, it’s always a different story and it’s certainly going to be interesting.

“I normally focus on what I need to improve on. My plan is to continue in that way but of course I know the bike he’s on. I’ve ridden the old model of the Suzuki and that had great potential so if it’s better than that then I’d expect challenges at some circuits.”

British Eurosport will broadcast exclusive live coverage from every round of the 2014 Superbike World Championship. Coverage also available online and on mobile via Eurosport Player

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