The Turkish rider, twice a World Champion already, believes his new bike has what it takes to make him champion again, and few would argue with him after a display of controlled pace to start and then controlled aggression to finish. He passed three riders on one lap to take the lead and was never headed after that. This was his 18th career win in Supersport, an extension to his all-time record tally.
His Kawasaki DeltaFin Lorenzini team-mate Sheridan Morais survived a scare with his race tyre choice to record sixth place, having been very much on the early race pace. He suffered a loss of traction from his rear tyre and had to settle for sixth, which was still a more than respectable result first time out. He was only 6.8 seconds from Kenan after 15 laps.
Former champion Fabien Foret (Kawasaki Intermoto Step Racing) rode a controlled race to secure second, finishing only 0.078 seconds from Kenan as he battled back towards the lead. His second place made it a 1-2 finish for Kawasaki riders in a race which was shortened to 15 laps before the start due to concerns with tyre life at the fast Phillip Island circuit. The next stop is Imola, in a month’s time.
Kenan Sofuoglu: “I was actually very nervous before the start because last time I won a race was a year and a half ago, so I am really happy. This was my first time racing with Kawasaki and I did not expect that the first weekend we would be so strong. My bike was working well and it has proved that my decision to come back to WSS with Kawasaki was a good one, because I have a really good bike. I have seen this the last few years and I believe this bike can make me World Champion again. I am happy to be back in this class. Everybody had tyre problems of some kind and I was afraid of what might happen at the end of the race, so I waited and then I took the chance to go into the lead. I made a bit of a gap and I really did not know that Foret was so close behind me on the last lap, so I was pleased to see the flag.”
Sheridan Morais: “In testing we were doing a lot of race simulations and we did not have any tyre problems, so when they shortened the race to 15 laps we were actually upset about it. We had quite an advantage on a soft tyre but it turned out lucky on race day because my tyre went off. I was hanging in there early on, really comfortable but then about lap eight it started to get a bit out of control and I was pattering all over the place. I was happy about the bike and there was nothing I could do about the tyre, so that’s the way it goes. The main thing is we were in there in terms of pace.”
Fabien Foret: “Kenan and Sheridan have made some good work and obviously we got some things from them, and the bike is pretty good. When Kenan passed me I could see the rhythm is a little bit faster, and I tried to stick with him. Cluzel, with a pretty fast bike, was coming on the straight, so it was difficult to stay close to Kenan.I was pretty close and could have even made a move at MG corner, but that would have been too risky and it is the first race of the year so I did not want to crash. Good on Kenan and I am happy for my team and myself, it is a good start.”