The world-wide corona crisis also affects motorcycle racing. The wheels have come to a standstill. There is no telling yet when it will be possible to hold races again. During the wait, the two BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team riders, Tom Sykes (GBR) and Eugene Laverty (IRL) are following the guidance to ‘Stay at Home’. Despite that, they are both keeping busy – although in different ways. While Sykes as a father has now more time to spend with his daughters, Laverty is pursuing long-held interests, such as music and languages.
Stay at Home – they both did, even before it was made obligatory by governments. “It’s a strange time and while the situation is relatively under control in my estimate here in Portugal, my wife Pippa and I have opted to keep ourselves in lock down out of the principle ‘Stay at Home’,” says Laverty who lives near the Portimão race track in Portugal. Sykes adds: “It’s a difficult time for everybody world-wide in this present time. Everybody is doing their part, trying to get this virus under control. It is best to stay at home at the moment and hope that this passes sooner rather than later.”
Usually, WorldSBK riders are on the road a lot. So for family man Sykes, the break brings with it some positives in that he can now spend much more time with his two daughters. They are with him at his home in Leamington Spa, England. The three of them are staying in touch with the rest of their close family by phone. According to Sykes, in general not a lot has changed for him at the moment. “I’m very fortunate, as since I was young one of my goals was working towards getting myself set up in a nice home. I certainly thank my lucky stars at this time more than ever.” His home has large grounds, allowing the trio to spend plenty of time outside, whilst still staying at home.
“We’ve got a few things set up outside along with a very large trampoline in the garden, which we are using a lot,” says Sykes. “We have been lucky to have great weather here. It has almost been like early summer so we have been playing a lot outside. My two girls love to dance, so I turned on the outside music and set up a little wooden stage for the girls to dance on. It was great value entertainment for me too.” When it cools down outside, the play continues inside. “We paint, do crafts, watch movies and indulge in a number of treats. We are able to still be quite normal, with the exception of not going to school at present.” With this in mind, Sykes has taken on a new role of being a teacher for his children and helps with the homework from school for this extended period.
As well as the garden and the living room, Sykes also spends a lot of time in the kitchen. “I have always been the one to do the cooking anyway, but the chef side in me has come out in force now,” he grins. “I always think of good meal plans in my head for me and my girls because we always eat fresh food but obviously now that luxury is not as simple so my freezer is full as we have come up with a different approach to make the ingredients go further.” Sykes is also in action as a craftsman, carrying out some DIY work around his house.
Meanwhile, Laverty is also far from bored in Portugal. One of the first things he did at home was to take on some 1000-piece jigsaws. The first one is already complete, with more to follow. He has also signed up for an online guitar course. “So come the summer we may have to schedule some gigs around World Superbike race weekends. Entry will be free and complimentary ear plugs provided,” he says with a chuckle. Laverty has been learning Portuguese for a long time, but has now upped his daily lessons. “Music and language are two things that I wish I’d done more of as a kid, and now I’m making up for it. They’re great for the mind, too,“ he says.
Together with his wife Pippa, Laverty is taking part in an online first aid course. They are learning what to do, for example, in case of a respiratory arrest, heart attack or haemorrhages, such as cardiopulmonary massage and the recovery position. “They are important basic lessons that can save lives,” Laverty stresses.
Laverty is also very active on his social media channels and is coming up with things for his fans. These include his podcast, which he now records from home and – thanks to the wonders of digital networking via social media – he also takes on various different challenges with other racers from the world of two and four-wheel motorsport, from jigsaws to fitness challenges.
Speaking of fitness, fitness training obviously still takes up plenty of time for the two riders from the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. As professional racers, they are preparing for the moment when everything resumes. For Sykes, the current situation has changed nothing in this regard. “I’ve been training from home since 2011,” he explains. “I always planned to be based at home for a number of reasons but mainly to be more productive with my time so I am lucky to have a fully-functioning gym at home. That means I am very well set-up and don’t have to worry about the training aspect. The only thing I am not doing at this moment is to go cycling outside.”
Laverty has also had to put his big hobby, cycling, on hold. “We are still permitted to, but the reality is that there are 100,000s of cycling accidents per year and now is not the time to add stress to our healthcare workers.” And so his bike sits on a stationary trainer in his fitness room at home. While he spends hours clocking up the kilometres at home, he watches old racing documentaries and season reviews. In addition, Laverty uses a power station framework for his strength and conditioning. “I am missing riding motorbikes,” Laverty says. “But absence makes the heart grow fonder, so I will be more than ready to return to action!”