This weekend at Jerez, Kenan Sofuoglu not only won a World Supersport race, but he also notched his fifth World Supersport title, firmly etching his name in the history books and making himself a hero in his home country of Turkey. The Kawasaki Puccetti Racing team rider, aboard his ZX-6R, didn’t have it easy this year, as his teammate Randy Krummenacher was also challenging for the title. However, Krummenacher crashed on the fifth lap of the race, meaning all Sofuoglu had to do was finish to clinch the title. Of course, in typical Sofuoglu style, the Turk fought for the win.
In a touching post-race moment, one of the first things he did upon returning to parc ferme was place his infant son Mahir on his Kawasaki to bask in the glory (captured in a screen grab here by friend of MO, Bob Dragich). The moment made for a cute end to a championship struggle, but has even deeper meaning to Kenan and his family, as they’ve had to endure traumatic losses recently. Kenan’s brother Sinan, a fellow racer, lost his life in 2008 in a racing incident, and in 2015 Kenan’s infant son Hamza, Mahir’s older brother, passed away at only four months old.
Compared to those loses, fighting for a world title is relatively easy for Kenan Sofuoglu. Already the most successful rider in World Supersport, his resume keeps getting thicker and thicker. A brief excerpt of his career is below, taken from the World Superbike website.
Born in the Turkish town of Akyazi (whose postcode is 54 and the number with which Sofuoglu has always raced), he began his professional career in 2003, missing out on the IDM Supersport title by just ten points. That same year he also made his debut in the World Supersport Championship, competing at the rounds in Valencia, Oschersleben and Magny-Cours.
His first two titles came with Hannspree Ten Kate Honda in 2007 and 2010 respectively. He achieved the crown again in 2012, that time with Lorenzini Kawasaki. During this phase, Sofuoglu also competed in the Moto2 World Championship in 2010 and 2011. In the second of the two years, he finished on the podium at Assen, beaten only by future MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez.
Sofuoglu’s title defence story of 2016 got off to a rocky start, after he crashed out of the first race at Phillip Island to walk away with zero points, while Krummenacher cemented his position as the Turk’s most dangerous rival. The Swiss led the overall standings for the first four rounds, but lost his advantage in Imola, where Sofuoglu scored his second victory of the year following his first win in Aragon. His road to triumph seemed set from then, adding another three consecutive victories to his name at Donington, Misano and then at Lausitzring after the summer break.
Rather than slowing down during the summer break, Sofuoglu only sped up! The Turkish National Idol used the break to attempt to beat the World Land Speed Record on a motorcycle. He achieved this milestone riding a Kawasaki Ninja H2R, reaching 400 km/h on a new bridge built near Istanbul.
Aside from winning championships and breaking world records, Kenan Sofuoglu has a philanthropical side too. The 32 year old is very involved in helping nurture young Turkish talent and catapult their careers in different World Championships. Toprak Razgatlioglu is a stellar example of Sofuoglu’s talent project, with the young rider also racing for Kawasaki Puccetti Racing in the STK1000 category.
Sofuoglu’s first chance at sealing the 2016 WorldSSP Championship came two weeks ago at Magny-Cours. He was blisteringly fast all weekend and everything seemed set for the champion to celebrate for a fifth time, but an uncharacteristic fall with eight laps to go only prolonged what has happened today. Incredibly, this season has seen Sofuoglu take 38 race victories and 77 podiums. He is the only rider this season to have won more than one race and has secured his remarkable fifth Supersport World Championship, still with a round to go. Kenan Sofuoglu’s grit and determination demonstrate the true qualities of a champion who is always striving for more. He has an all or nothing attitude, which is evident in his riding style and never gives up until he reaches victory- a quality seen time and time again throughout this magical 2016 season.