WorldSSP: Smith Wins the Final Desert Duel
The final WorldSSP race of the season was an edge-of-the-seat thriller that saw Kyle Smith (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) come out victorious over current World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) by just 6 thousandths of a second. Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) finished in third to secure the overall runner-up spot in the 2016 FIM Supersport World Championship.
It was pole-sitter Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) and Sofuoglu who took off side by side at lights out, but got caught up in the first corner as Alex Baldolini (Race Department ATK#25) shot away at the front. Pole man Stapleford ran into trouble on turn 10, ending his race early.
Runner-up contenders Randy Krummenacher (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and Cluzel battled for second place and quickly joined by Smith, who had worked his way up from fifth on the grid, as they crossed the line together into the second lap. The Brit had the quicker pace and by the end of the lap had overtaken Baldolini and began to pull away. Cluzel was able to maintain his pace in second but Krummenacher couldn’t and began to fall back through the order, fighting for fourth with his other rival PJ Jacobsen (Honda World Supersport Team).
Sofuoglu was briefly caught up behind other riders in fifth, but it didn’t take him long to begin his assault back towards the front. With three laps to go, the Turkish rider hunted down Smith who was over a second in front. Smith didn’t let the Kawasaki rider get away and retook his lead with two laps to go, initiating the beginning of an epic shootout for the win as the lead alternated. Both riders crossed the line side by side with Smith taking the win by just 6 thousandths of a second!
Jacobsen won the battle with Krummenacher for fourth, while the Swiss rider took fifth at the end of the race, and third overall in the Championship. Ayrton Badovini (GEMAR Balloons – Team Lorini) finished the race in sixth ahead of Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) in seventh.
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda’s Christoffer Bergman came home in eighth while Massimo Roccoli (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) finished ninth, while Baldolini rounded out the top ten. Ondrej Jezek (Team GOELEVEN) claimed 11th with Loris Cresson (RPM84) completing his fourth WorldSSP race in P12. Hikari Okubo (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) came home in P13 ahead of Kyle Ryde (Schmidt Racing) and Lachlan Epis (Response RE Racing) who picked up the seasons last points in P14 and P15.
WorldSSP will restart their engines for the new season at Phillip Island in February 2017. Until then, stay up to date with the latest news and videos on WorldSBK.com.
Quotes from the top three riders:
K.Smith (HONDA): “I’ve had the pace all weekend and the bike has been feeling good. I enjoy this track a lot and I won here last year. Before I went out there I was super nervous. I knew I could do it but it has to be perfect to beat the best in the world. At one point in the race, I pulled a little gap and then Kenan caught me back up. I just had to concentrate so hard and not make any mistakes. Finally, I just beat him to the line, I don’t know by how much but it definitely wasn’t very much!”
K.Sofuoglu (KAWASAKI): “It was a very good race. Sometimes it’s not so nice winning all the time, you want a battle and sometimes you lose. Today I am not sad. I believe we did a good race. At the beginning, I lost a bit of time but later I closed the gap. On the last lap, I knew anything could happen. I’m happy we didn’t crash and we are on the podium for the last race of the season. I am happy for Smith as he needed this result more than me and I hope he gets a good team for next season.”
J.Cluzel (MV AGUSTA): “It’s perfect and I couldn’t ask for anything more. At the beginning of the weekend if someone told me you would finish second in the championship I would say that would be so difficult. That’s what I said even before the race. But I managed to finish second, I am on the podium and that’s the main goal. I am so happy. I am the first after the winning champion Kenan. It is the third time that I am a vice World Champion, so for me, it’s quite good but now I want to be a World Champion!”
Kyle Smith (GBR) HONDA 2’02.443
Kenan Sofuoglu (TUR) KAWASAKI +0.006
Jules Cluzel (FRA) MV AGUSTA +2.164
Pirelli WorldSSP Tyre Choices
Full Race Results
Smith wins back-to-back in Qatar
WorldSSP Championship Standings Gaerne Spanish Round
Kenan Sofuoglu (TUR) KAWASAKI 216 points
Jules Cluzel (FRA) MV AGUSTA 142 points
Randy Krummenacher (SUI) KAWASAKI 140 points