WorldSSP: Runaway win for Kenan Sofuoglu in Dutch sunshine
The WorldSSP race at the Acerbis Dutch Round saw the reigning World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) produce a masterclass to dominate from pole, with the Turk joined on the podium by Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) and Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda).
In clear weather conditions at the TT Assen Circuit Sofuoglu bounced back from his early season problems to take the holeshot and get the hammer down, leading from start to finish and crossing the line +2.611s in front of closest challenger Mahias.
It was the perfect response from the five-time World Champion as he registered his first points of 2017, having missed the first two rounds of the season due to injury and then crashing at Aragon earlier in April on his return to action. It is Sofuoglu’s first victory since his 2016 championship-clinching win at Jerez.
With Sofuoglu racing clear at the front an intriguing battle for second place raged on throughout the 18 lap contest, with Mahias, Cluzel, PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), Sheridan Morais (Kallio Racing) and Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) all in the hunt.
Mahias ultimately triumphed in that fight for second but finished with a spectacular wheelie coming out of the final chicane and was almost caught by Cluzel on the line, the two Frenchman separated by just 0.005s.
A 1.5s margin behind them was American Jacobsen in fourth, with South African Morais finishing fifth and Italy’s Caricasulo sixth.
The top ten was completed by Michael Canducci (Puccetti Racing Junior Team FMI), Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing), Christian Gamarino (BARDAHL EVAN BROS. Honda Racing) and Rob Hartog (Team Hartog – Jenik – Against Cancer).
Dutchman Hartog was the top finisher of the FIM Europe Supersport Cup in tenth place, followed by Hannes Soomer (WILSport Racedays) in 13th and Alessandro Zaccone (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) in 18th.
The race results mean Mahias now leads the championship standings by 20 points from Morais, with Sofuoglu down in ninth place, trailing Mahias by 40 points after four races.
The WorldSSP riders will be back in action over the 12th-14th May weekend at the Motul Italian Round, hosted at Imola.
Race winner – Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing)
“I have won many times in my career but to come back this year after the season started very bad for me is fantastic. I had a lot of stress for me in personally, finally I am back in position one in the race which means I am more relaxed. I had zero championship points before and now I am just trying to win as much as possible, and it is fantastic to be back on top.”
#DutchWorldSBK: WorldSSP Race
1. Kenan Sofuoglu (TUR) Kawasaki
2. Lucas Mahias (FRA) Yamaha +2.611
3. Jules Cluzel (FRA) Honda +2.616