Kawasaki Puccetti Racing rider Kenan Sofuoglu rode like the five times WorldSSP champion he is to overcome the effects of his recent pelvic injuries and finish third in the final race of the 2017 WorldSSP season. Anthony West (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) came from 12th on lap one to take a strong fifth place at the flag.
After qualifying fourth in SP2 on Friday Kenan rode with a degree of restraint in the first few laps at the Losail International circuit, especially with so many other riders making aggressive early moves, but he worked his way from ninth on lap one to an eventual third, increasing his pace as the race went on.
He set a new lap record twice, the final one on lap 12 of 15, to close the gap down to Federico Caricasulo. He passed the Italian rider more than once but his final manoeuvre gave him third place right at the flag. It was a remarkable podium result for a rider who was so badly injured only a few weeks earlier.
Kenan was also fighting to keep his last chance of retaining the championship crown, but after Lucas Mahias won the race the French rider was crowned champion for the first time. Kenan was second overall, by 29 points.
When he has been allowed to start or finish a race in 2017 Sofuoglu has secured a podium finish. He has scored five wins this year, extending his career total to 43.
In only his second race for the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing WorldSSP team in 2017, West set a lap record on his push through to the front, only for Sofuoglu to beat it during his own charge forward.
West ended his season in eighth place, having ridden some races on his own privateer machine earlier in the 2017 season.
Kenan Sofuoglu, stated: “At the beginning of the race it was very difficult with everyone riding around me. When they had all calmed down and started to ride normally, I started to pass them and put in very good lap times. I almost got to the leaders’ group but Caricasulo was riding very aggressively. We still got to the podium at the end, set the lap record and were second in the world championship. I am very happy, honestly, because we did not lose the championship today, we lost the championship in the races we did not start. All the races we rode to the finish we took a podium. I just need to be happy and say thank you to all the doctors who supported me this weekend.”
Anthony West, stated: “My start was good but being on the inside you could either be lucky if everybody goes wide, or unlucky if they don’t, and nobody did. I got stuck a little bit and a few guys got past me. Then a few guys crashed in front of me, so I was baulked a little bit. I felt strong during the race and was able to catch people on the track. I wish the result was a little bit better but I am happy as the last two years have been hard ones. Now I have started to enjoy the racing again and to be fighting for something.”
Michael Canducci (3570 Puccetti Racing FMI Kawasaki) did not finish the race and ended his season in 14th place overall.
Gino Rea (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) was ninth today, and completed the 2017 season 17th overall. Kazuki Watanabe (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) retired at Losail and finished his year 20th.
Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) was a no-scorer in Qatar but ended up 28th, one place ahead of Aussie rider Lachlan Epis (Response RE Racing Kawasaki) who was 29th in his second WorldSSP season. Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) placed 35th in the final rankings.
2017 World Supersport Championship leader board after final round:
- LUCAS MAHIAS 165 YAMAHA
- KENAN SOFUOGLU 145 KAWASAKI
- JULES CLUZEL 135 HONDA
- SHERIDAN MORAIS 132 YAMAHA
- PJ JACOBSEN 108 MV AGUSTA
- FEDERICO CARICASULO 105 YAMAHA
- NIKI TUULI 72 YAMAHA
- ANTHONY WEST 62 KAWASAKI
- KYLE SMITH 51 HONDA
- LUKE STAPLEFORD 47 TRIUMPH
- CHRISTIAN GAMARINO 46 HONDA
- ROBERTO ROLFO 4 3HONDA
- KYLE RYDE 43 KAWASAKI
- MICHAEL CANDUCCI 42 KAWASAKI
- HIKARI OKUBO 42 HONDA
- LORENZO ZANETTI 28 MV AGUSTA
- HANNES SOOMER 28 HONDA
- ROB HARTOG 27 KAWASAKI
- GINO REA 24 KAWASAKI
- KAZUKI WATANABE 21 KAWASAKI
- DECHA KRAISART 20 YAMAHA
- AIDEN WAGNER 17 HONDA
- ALESSANDRO ZACCONE 17 MV AGUSTA
- CHRISTOFFER BERGMAN 16 HONDA
- JACK KENNEDY 15 TRIUMPH
- THITIPONG WAROKORN 13 KAWASAKI
- AXEL BASSANI 11 KAWASAKI
- NACHO CALERO 10 KAWASAKI
- LACHLAN EPIS 10 KAWASAKI
- LORIS CRESSON 8 MV AGUSTA
- THOMAS GRADINGER 7 YAMAHA
- JOE FRANCIS 6 YAMAHA
- ROBIN MULHAUSER 6 HONDA
- ZULFAHMI KHAIRUDDIN 6 KAWASAKI
- ALEX BALDOLINI 5 YAMAHA
- XAVIER CARDELUS 3 YAMAHA
- DAVIDE PIZZOLI 2