Tom Sykes wraps up BSB season, World Superbike return looms

Sykes concluded his first season at BSB since 2008 12th in the standings as his return to the national stage in a Paul Bird Motorsport Ducati V4 R Panigale failed to produce the expected results.

A pair of wins in the penultimate round at Donington Park proved to be the highlight of an otherwise forgettable season for the Yorkshire rider, whose second-best result was a sixth-place finish at Oulton Park.

“I can’t deny it’s been a disappointing season as I came to BSB and the PBM team to get involved and fight for the title,” said Sykes, who ended his year with a pair of 10th places and an 11th to Brands.

“Unfortunately we had some restrictions and although we showed what we could do at a big circuit like Donington, we ultimately couldn’t do it often enough.

“I am upset for myself and for the team because the level of talent at PBM, in all areas of the garage, deserves much more.

“Sometimes you have tough seasons and unfortunately 2022 has been one of those years. I’m obviously very grateful for the opportunity at PBM and they’ve been a pleasure to work with them all year so I wish them all the best.”

Amid his struggles to master the BSB-spec Ducati, Sykes has been tipped for a return to WSBK for some time, with satellite team Kawasaki Puccetti Racing appearing to be his most realistic destination.

A recent trip to the WSBK paddock in Portimao earlier this month for the 37-year-old has done nothing to quell speculation that he is on course for a reunion with the brand that led him to the title worldwide in 2013.

A hurdle to a 2023 return for Sykes was lifted last weekend as one of his potential contenders for a race at Puccetti, Rory Skinner, was signed to race for American Racing in Moto2 next year.

BSB champ Ray considering move to WSBK

Fifth place in the weekend’s opening race at Brands Hatch was enough for Bradley Ray to seal his maiden BSB title, as the OMG Racing Yamaha rider battled competition from Glenn Irwin and Tommy Bridewell to claim the crown.

It now appears that Ray is considering the possibility of a move to WSBK as soon as next year, with speculation linking the young Brit with a potential place in the Motoxracing Yamaha team for 2023.

Like Sykes, Ray was in the Portimao paddock alongside his manager and six-time BSB champion Shane Byrne.

Ray has previously made a wildcard outing in WSBK for the Buildbase Suzuki team at Donington Park in 2018, and also tested a MotoGP bike for the Hamamatsu brand at Sepang in early 2019.

Last year’s BSB champion Tarran Mackenzie, who raced at Donington this year as a wildcard, appears to be out of contention for a 2023 WSBK race following GRT Yamaha’s decision to sign Dominique Aegerter and Remy Gardner.

Mackenzie finished his title defense in seventh position overall after a fractured femur suffered in an accident at Oulton Park kept him out of the final two rounds of the season at Donington and Brands.

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