Four rounds have been completed in the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship and there will be a slightly different look to the grid going forward after Tom Sykes and Kawasaki Puccetti Racing announced their split 12 races into their partnership. 2013 Champion Sykes will return to BMW temporarily, appearing on the M1000RR machine during this week’s two-day test at the Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli” as well as in races until Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) has fully recovered from his injury.
Sykes left BMW at the end of the 2021 campaign and made the switch to the British Superbike championship for 2022 but endured a difficult year on Ducati machinery, winning just two races all season. For 2023, he came back to WorldSBK and linked up with Kawasaki, the manufacturer he won his title with, as he signed for the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing squad. However, this season has proven to be difficult for team and rider with just one point to their name so far which came at Assen in Race 2. In 12 races this season, Sykes has only been a classified finisher in six and the partnership has now come to an end.
With his collaboration with the Puccetti Kawasaki squad over, Sykes has re-joined German manufacturer BMW, with his first appearance since re-joining at the Misano test. Sykes raced for the manufacturer between 2019 and 2021 for three seasons, taking six podium finishes and three pole positions for BMW. Sykes first rode the BMW S1000RR in 2019 and 2020 before the German manufacturer introduced the M1000RR model in 2021.
Sykes has returned to the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team to replace van der Mark while the Dutchman continues to recover from the left femur fracture he sustained after a huge highside at his home round at Assen. Although van der Mark has posted on social media about being in light training, there is no date set for his return and Sykes will ride alongside Scott Redding at the factory BMW team until van der Mark returns from injury.
“I’m looking forward to temporarily returning to the BMW Motorrad Motorsport and to the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team,” Sykes said. “I will work hard to support them as best as possible. I know them from the beginning and was involved in developing the BMW M 1000 RR. Now I get the opportunity to contribute again to the development process. I’m looking forward to getting on the new BMW M 1000 RR at the Misano test. At the same time, I wish my former teammate Mickey all the best on his way to recovery while I give everything to stand in for him in the best possible way.”
BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director, Marc Bongers, added: “Welcome back, Tom. We are delighted to welcome Tom temporarily back to our WorldSBK family. This opportunity arose as Tom became available. We believe that he will be a great substitute for as long as it takes for Michael to recover from his injury. We are in constant contact with Michael, and he is making good progress. However, there is no date set for his return. Tom is an outstanding rider and, as well as having plenty of WorldSBK experience, he has been familiar with our project and the team from the very start.”