When Kenan Sofuoglu joined Kawasaki for the 2012 World Supersport Championship, he had already won two titles (2010, 2007) on Honda CBR600RR machinery.
With such luck on a Honda, would Sofouglu continue his success aboard the Kawasaki ZX-6R? The Turkish rider had limited issues, eventually taking a third World Supersport title last season during his debut on the Ninja ZX-6R; he won four of 13 rounds.
And for 2013, Sofuoglu is already beginning on a quick note, winning the opening round of the 2013 World Supersport Championship at Phillip Island in Australia. The Kawasaki Mahi Racing Team India pilot set a new record lap of 1:33.283 at the 2.761-mile circuit, and brought his all-time WSS win record to 22.
Joining Sofuoglu on the Phillip Island podium was Yaknich Motorsport Yamaha Sam Lowes and the rookie Pata Honda World Supersport rider, Michael van der Mark.
Sofuoglu’s win was hard fought during the shortened (weather) 15-lap race. He swapped the lead a few times with Lowes, but eventually beat the Yamaha rider to the line by 1.899 seconds.
During his debut race, Van der Mark stayed with Sofuoglu and Lowes for a bit, but his pace slowed towards the end. The reigning European Superstock 600 Champion eventually finished 6.771 seconds behind Sofuoglu.
Finishing fourth was Sofuoglu’s teammate Fabien Fort, followed by three more Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R sportbikes – Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres riders David Salom and Luca Scassa, and Team Go Eleven Kawasaki rider Alessandro Antonelli, respectively. This made for five Kawasaki machines in the top seven places.
ParkinGO MV Agusta Corse made its debut with the Roberto Rolfo piloting the F3, but the team was forced to retire while battling for fourth with two laps remaining due to a blistering rear tire.
A big crash on the exit of Turn 12 at the end of lap 3 involved Russian Vladimir Leonov (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha) and Raffaele De Rosa (Team Lorini Honda).
Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Mahi Racing Team India ZX-6R Supersport) says: “It all worked out very well in the end. Sam Lowes did a good job all weekend and it was not easy to catch him, but we kept working to find the way to save the tyre for 15 laps and in the morning warm-up I did not give up.
“This morning I told mechanics we should do it in the warm-up and show everyone we could do it in the race. Warm-up was good and also the race – the last three or four laps especially. The plan was to give it everything and the lap times was almost at qualification pace for those last three laps. I was happy because the team were working very well and the bike also. The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R is still the best bike in Supersport. Everybody thought after the qualifying that another bike would come and beat everyone else but Kawasaki power is still there and it is a great package for the full race.”
The 2013 World Supersport series now breaks until Aragon on April 14.
2013 Phillip Island World Supersport Results:
1. Kenan Sofuoglu, Kawasaki ZX-6R
2. Sam Lowes, Yamaha YZF R6
3. Michael Vd Mark, Honda CBR600RR
4. Fabien Foret, Kawasaki ZX-6R
5. David Salom, Kawasaki ZX-6R
6. Luca Scassa, Kawasaki ZX-6R
7. Andrea Antonelli, Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R
8. Lorenzo Zanetti, Honda CBR600RR
9. Massimo Roccoli, Yamaha YZF R6
10. Jack Kennedy, Honda CBR600RR
2013 World Supersport Point Standings:
1. Kenan Sofuoglu, Kawasaki ZX-6R: 25
2. Sam Lowes, Yamaha YZF R6: 20
3. Michael Vd Mark, Honda CBR600RR: 16
4. Fabien Foret, Kawasaki ZX-6R: 13
5. David Salom, Kawasaki ZX-6R: 11
6. Luca Scassa, Kawasaki ZX-6R: 10
7. Andrea Antonelli, Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R: 9
8. Lorenzo Zanetti, Honda CBR600RR: 8
9. Massimo Roccoli, Yamaha YZF R6: 7
10. Jack Kennedy, Honda CBR600RR: 6