WorldSSP: Sofuoglu outshines rivals on first day
WorldSSP champion Kenan Sofuoglu outpaced the rest of the field by a 0.456s margin on Friday at the Motul Italian Round, as the Turk set out his stall at Imola. Sofuoglu’s 1’51.647 time in FP2 was by far the best time of the day, with Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) and Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) also in the top three on the combined timesheet, courtesy of their FP1 times.
Sofuoglu, who has an excellent record at this circuit, is determined to build on the victory he achieved in the last round at Assen after missing the first two races of 2017 and then crashing out at Aragon on his comeback. He rode well on Friday and appears to be the key man to beat this weekend.
The day’s overall top five also included Kyle Smith (GEMAR Team Lorini) and early championship leader Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team).
The top ten riders going straight into SP2 on Saturday also includes Sheridan Morais (Kallio Racing), PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), Christian Gamarino (BARDAHL EVAN BROS. Honda Racing), Hikari Okubo (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) and Alessandro Zaccone (MV Agusta Reparto Corse).
Michael Canducci (Puccetti Racing Junior Team FMI) crashed with 20 minutes remaining on the FP2 clock, shortly before an engine fault for Alex Baldolini (Race Department ATK#25) saw the red flag come out after smoke poured from his MV Agusta F3 675 and oil was left on track at turns 15 to 18. There was also another brief red flag earlier in the session following a crash by Japanese rider Hiromichi Kunikawa (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda).
Cluzel crashed at turn 6 and went into the gravel towards the end of the session and then a turn 7 crash for Caricasulo in the final minutes of the afternoon practice ended his session early, meaning neither of those two could beat their own strong FP1 times.
In the morning FP1 session, Caricasulo was top of the timesheet with a 1’52.103 best lap, ahead of Cluzel and Sofuoglu who were also in the top three. Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) crashed in that session at turn 7 but was soon back on his bike and able to rejoin the action.
The WorldSSP grid will be back in action for FP3 on Saturday morning at 9.20am local time at Imola.
#ItalianWorldSSP Fastest on Friday
1. Kenan Sofuoglu Kawasaki Puccetti Racing 1.51.647
2. Federico Caricasulo GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team +0.456
3. Jules Cluzel CIA Landlord Insurance Honda +0.548