World Superbike Champ Tom Sykes on the Mustang RTR

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The Ford Mustang RTR Double Down — it’s a very appropriate title considering that World Superbike Champion Tom Sykes is driving this car … the very vehicle that Formula Drift Champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Speedhunters built. This is a car being shared by two series champions. Tom is going for his second World Superbike Title for 2014, and he just came from Laguna Seca where he had won that race. I got the chance to not only speak with this World Champion, but also get a quick peek at the Double Down Mustang RTR.
“I had started racing in 2000 when I was 14 years old,” Tom replied, accent thick of his Yorkshire, England home, about getting his motorsports career started. “What got me into racing was my granddad. Nobody in my family races or ever has raced. My granddad is a very keen motorcyclist — he has a Kawasaki ZX6R — and I was fortunate as he was the one who founded the process.” What makes Tom an interesting character, besides his very happy nature and humbleness, was the fact that he is a muscle car guy at heart. “It was something I grew into, American muscle cars, and the Mustang RTR is fantastic and was such a great surprise! I’ve had such a blast in it.”
The weekend of Laguna Seca, 2010 Formula Drift Champion, Vaughn Gittin Jr. delivered the car to Tom. The Double Down is a collaboration between Gittin, Speedhunters and Keith Charvonia.
It is a beast of a car.
It was a 2013 SEMA Show car that features an Air Lift air ride suspension …
… RTR Fender Blisters for the massive Nitto tires with one-off Rotiform BLQ wheels, Brembo brakes with huge Baer rotors, custom Recaro seats, and enough power to blow the doors off anyone who gets near it. Tom has certainly enjoyed his time behind the wheel, “Every time I turn the key and the V8 barks to life, I have a big smile on my face. The sound is awesome. I haven’t even had the radio switched on; there’s no need.” With the sound the Double Down puts out, I can’t blame him.
Of course, being tied in with a Formula Drift Champion, the Double Down will certainly make enough power to remove the rubber in the rear of the car in a hurry. Tom couldn’t believe the trust that Vaughn had in him when it came to lending out the one-off RTR. “If only I could repay the favor,” he laughed. “You know, lend him something I’m used to riding.”
However, drifting has certainly caught the attention of the 2013 World Superbike Champion. “What he does is fantastic. I’ve seen him give somebody a lesson, and […] hopefully, if time allows, we can spend some time together and he can show me the ropes and how to take full advantage of that V8 brute.”
As of right now, it’s looking very good for Tom to take another World Superbike Championship. Of the nine Grand Prix so far, with each weekend having two races, Tom has scored four poles, eight wins and 13 podiums. With only four races to go, the next closest rider is 44 points behind him.
“Yeah, you know, it’s fantastic,” Tom begins when I asked him about the feeling of being so close to a second championship in a row. “We’ve worked so hard and I’ve been with Kawasaki for five years. I can’t believe how time flies, but we were World Champions last year and just missed it the year before by half a point. Now we’re leading […], so it’s a great feeling.” Possibly even a little redemption from that half-point loss in 2012. “I’ve dedicated my life to racing. The commitment I have, and the commitment I have from Kawasaki is key, and the good thing is that we’re able to fight at the front just about every weekend. If we can nail this one, it will be a very big milestone.”
With the amount of fun he’s had behind the wheel of the RTR, you wonder if he’ll give it back. “Well, I’m not going to say anything to Vaughn. I’m just going to make sure the keys stay in my right leg pocket, I’ll have a good, quiet word with the guys over at customs, and in less than 48 hours, she’ll be nice and wrapped up in the UK.”
It was a great pleasure talking to Tom Sykes, and on behalf of The Mustang Source, I want to thank Tom, the ID Agency, RTR, and, of course, Kawasaki for giving me the opportunity to talk to a World Champion and a very awesome guy.

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Originally Published on TheMustangSource

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