Tom Sykes says his long-awaited winning return in World Superbikes last time out at Assen “was a gentle reminder that I was world champion for a reason” as he looks to use the victory to kick-start his campaign.

The Kawasaki rider has endured a tricky time adapting to the new World Superbike technical regulations, which have pegged backed the Japanese manufacturer’s maximum rev limit that has hampered the British rider’s hard braking and rapid acceleration style, but broke his winless run which stretched back to race one at Misano last year – when Chaz Davies and Jonathan Rea were involved in their horror crash.

Having enjoyed a breakthrough with victory at the Dutch track, ending teammate Jonathan Rea’s long run of wins at Assen, Sykes is eager to use the timely confidence boost to continue his fightback this weekend at Imola.

“The easiest way to describe the feeling after my race win at Assen is that normally a win means a celebration, but this time it was a relief,” Sykes said. “It was also a gentle reminder that I was world champion for a reason. It has given me some self-confidence back.

“Since then I have been working well and we are starting to get back on the right track. We have had race-winning levels of pace this year but also some bad luck at times. On track at Imola we will work hard with the bike and try to win again.”

Sykes has climbed up to fifth in the World Superbike riders’ championship thanks to his Assen victory and will hope to eat into the leaders’ advantage at the Italian round where he produced a dominant double in 2013 on his way to the world title. Sykes currently trails Rea at the top of the riders’ standings by 58 points after the opening four rounds.

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