Kenan Sofuoglu won the race at Jerez and was crowned the 2016 FIM Supersport World Champion just five laps in on Sunday at Jerez, after his Kawasaki Puccetti Racing Teammate Randy Krummenacher crashed out of contention for the title. Incredibly it is the first time a WorldSSP rider has won back-to-back titles since Sébastien Charpentier did it in 2005 and 2006. Sofuoglu is also now the only rider in history to win the WorldSSP Championship five times.
The Turkish rider defended the tough challenge by Kallio Racing Team’s Niki Tuuli and CIA Landlord Insurance Honda’s Kyle Smith, who tried everything they could to beat the Kawasaki Rider at his own game. But experience won out and they weren’t able to match his incredible pace. Tuuli finished second, Smith came home in third and Honda World Supersport Racing Team’s PJ Jacobsen finished in fourth after catching the podium finishers in the final laps.
Sofuoglu had the holeshot and led from the first corner, focussed only on winning his fifth title. Krummenacher who was running in second, attacked at every opportunity to get in front of Sofuoglu. The first few laps saw the lead switch between the two Kawasakis before Krummenacher became undone at turn 1 and slid out on lap five. He wasn’t able to continue and officially retired from the race on lap 9, with Sofuoglu automatically being declared Champion of WorldSSP for his second consecutive time.
Further down the order FIM Europe Supersport Cup leader Axel Bassani (San Carlo Team Italia) had a good start and was fighting for sixth position with Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Ayrton Badovini (GEMAR Balloons – Team Lorini). The young Italian was able to hold off his Supersport challengers and was able to finish in fifth, after Federico Caricasulo (BARDHAL Evan Bros. Honda Racing) crashed out in the final laps. By being the first ESS rider home, Bassani won the FIM Europe Supersport Cup.
Cluzel finished in sixth ahead of second-placed ESS rider Illia Mykhalchyk (DS Junior Team), with Badovini coming home in eighth. Christoffer Bergman (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) finished in ninth with Lorenzo Zannetti (GRT Racing) rounding out the top ten.
Third-placed ESS rider to finish was Alessandro Zaccone (San Carlo Team Italia) who placed 11th in the race overall, ahead of Xavier Pinsach (GEMAR Balloons –Team Lorini) in 12th. Hikari Okubo (CIA Landlord insurance Honda) finished in P13 with Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) in 14th and Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) picking up a point in P15.
Thanks to Sofuoglu’s win, Kawasaki were named Manufacturers’ Champions of the WorldSSP category, joining their WorldSBK counterparts who won the Award on Saturday at Jerez.
Though the Championship has been decided, WorldSSP isn’t over just yet. The field now heads to Qatar for the final round of the 2016 season on the 28th to 30th of October.
Quotes from the top three riders:
K.Sofuoglu (KAWASAKI): “This is special because it was also my dream at Magny Cours to win the race and win the championship. Being honest when I saw Randy and Tuuli behind me I just thought lets stay in third place but then when I saw that Randy had crashed and I thought, ‘Why can’t I win the race too, because I’m already the champion?’. Then I pushed the throttle, the last few laps were difficult and I’m so, so happy. I’ve won the race, won the championship and this is my fifth title, which was my goal. Honestly for my career I have reached my goal. Now I will ride the bike just because I enjoy it.”
N.Tuuli (YAMAHA): “It was really close. I got a good start and I tried the same as I did at Lausitzring, I thought if I could follow Kenan and Randy I could be on the podium. My feeling was really good and then I saw Randy crashed and I just had to follow Kenan. My feeling was really good riding behind Kenan. It was a really good race. On the last lap I missed a gear on the straight on braking, but I’m happy.”
K.Smith (HONDA): “It’s a podium and I have worked hard for this one. I have been struggling all season with the set-up in the dry conditions. This weekend we have made a lot of changes and we have picked up the pace slowly but surely. At one point I thought I had the pace to possibly even win. I tried going underneath Tuuli and lost the front. Once the front tyre dropped off it was just too risky to push and keep with the front two. Third position and I’m well happy with it.”
K.Sofuoglu Kawasaki Puccetti Racing
N.Tuuli Kallio Racing Team (+2.728)
K.Smith CIA Landlord Insurance Honda (+3.398)
WorldSSP Championship Standings Gaerne Spanish Round
K.Sofuoglu Kawasaki Puccetti Racing (196 points)
R.Krummenacher Kawasaki Puccetti Racing (129 points)
J.Cluzel MV Agusta Reparto Corse (126 points)