Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) will sit out of the FIM Supersport World Championship race at Chang International Circuit in Thailand this weekend. Following a further medical examination in Turkey, after the heavy crash during FP3 during the opening round in Australia, doctors discovered that the rider is still suffering damage in the same pelvic area he injured at Magny Cours last year.
The tough Turkish rider decided to attempt to race in the final 2017 round in Qatar – less than a month after a crash in France that would normally require a 12-week recovery time. Kenan heroically raced to a podium finish and collected the FIM Silver championship medal for his and the team’s collective efforts.
The earlier than expected return to action last season affected the Turkish rider’s overall recovery. After suffering a 250 km/h crash at Phillip Island it has brought about a fragility of his bones in the previously fractured pelvic area. He will therefore require more time to fully recover and completely overcome the ultimate consequences of his Magny Cours accident.
The very difficult decision has been taken that he will not race in Thailand but Azlan Shah will be his replacement on board the Kawasaki Puccetti racing machine during the second round of the 2018 season.
The 33-year-old Malaysian rider was crowned Asia Road Racing Champion in 2013. He was then a Moto2 rider in 2014 and 2015 at Idemitsu Team Asia. Shah also took part to the Suzuka 8-Hour Endurance in 2017 alongside Watanabe and Haslam, where they finished second. He is currently riding in the Supersport 600 Asia Road Racing Championship with Kawasaki.
His new team-mate Hikari Okubo aims for a good result at the Thai venue this weekend, after ending up thirteenth at Phillip Island during the opening round of the season. Kawasaki Puccetti Racing’s Japanese rider expects a better performance at Buriram, as he was able to score his best result last year after ending the race in sixth position.
Kenan Sofuoglu, stated: “After the crash in Australia I started to feel pain in the same place where I got injured in Magny Cours. I thought it would improve but as time went by I kept feeling the pain. I had further examinations and the doctors found out that my hip still has a crack in it. If I crash once again it could get worse, leaving me with consequences in the future. Last year I recovered for less than a month to ride in Qatar when I was meant to sit things out for 12 weeks. Because of that my bones didn’t heal perfectly. After the Phillip Island crash I need more time to allow my body to fully recover.”
Hikari Okubo, stated: “After Australian race we found out new things that we want to develop to improve our performance. Still I need to change my riding still to take full advantage of the power of my Kawasaki. During this month I trained a lot and so I am confident ahead of the Thai Round. Last year I made here my best race result ending the race in sixth position, so I am full of expectation for this weekend.”
Azlan Shah, stated: “I feel very happy about this opportunity. It feels like a dream come true to be racing with this team and in WorldSSP. I have to thank the team very much for accepting me for this ride and I will try to finish at the top. Thank you Kawasaki family.”