Sykes and Lascorz Head For World Superbike Opener But Vermeulen Is Out
The 28-year-old former World Supersport Champion had an operation to rebuild his knee last July and is now in the final phase of rehabilitation after such complex surgery. His doctors are very pleased with the progress that he has made to date but an evaluation prior to the current official IMS test sessions at Phillip Island confirmed that Chris still has to achieve the final few degrees of bend in his knee joint to regain 100% of his race fitness.
Riding his Paul Bird Motorsport-prepared Kawasaki NinjaZX-10R at race pace now would aggravate the knee and almost certainly delay his full recovery so Chris and the team have agreed that his long term recovery is the most important thing for all concerned, meaning he will miss the first round of the championship on Sunday.
Akira Yanagawa will replace Vermeulen forPhillip Island and the Penrith-based team will concentrate their full efforts for race weekend on regular KRT riders Tom Sykes and Joan Lascorz.
Yorkshireman Sykes was an encouraging sixth fastest on the opening day's testing at the Victoria track with Spaniard Lascorz holding 11th position at the end, despite being as high as fifth after session one.
"We decided as a team that the best thing was not to race or test at Phillip Island. It is unfortunate because it is my home round and I have gone through such a long recovery already. It would have been nice to start off the season fit and strong but we did not want to risk any further damage to my knee. Just as importantly, I am not fit enough to compete at the top level yet so it is better to not ride at the moment. My knee is improving and the recovery is going to plan, so hopefully by Donington I will be ready to race again. I have nearly five weeks from now to get ready for that round."
The opening race gets underway on Sunday 27th February at 12.00 local time (01.00 GMT) with race two at 15.30 (04.30 GMT) and British viewers can catch the action live on British Eurosport.
Picture attached: Tom Sykes in action at Phillip Island on the new KawasakiZX-10R.