The final WorldSSP race for five times champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) takes place this coming weekend at Imola but for his team-mate Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) it will be just his fifth race since he joined the team at the beginning of this year.
Sofuoglu’s career sign off, in his team’s home country of Italy, will be a focus of incredible attention as he is the most successful WorldSSP rider in history. His five FIM Supersport World Championship titles – three for Kawasaki in all and two for his current Kawasaki Puccetti Racing team – total three more than any other rider has secured.
All being well in practice and qualifying, the 33-year-old Sofuoglu will take part in his 126th WorldSSP race this weekend. He holds all the major statistical records in the class. He has scored a total of 85 podiums, of which 43 have been race wins. He has taken 34 pole positions and has started from a front row grid position 100 times.
Okubo, who joined the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing team this year, has experienced some misfortune so far but also demonstrated pace for top six finishes at times. He sees the Imola weekend as the ideal moment to re-boot his championship ambitions. He is currently 26th overall, thanks to the two points he scored in the opening round in Australia.
The historic Imola circuit features seemingly endless elevations and sudden drops, with a mixture of incredibly fast curves and slower sections, including four chicanes. The race itself is scheduled for Sunday the 13th of May.
Kenan Sofuoglu stated: “Twenty years ago I started my racing career with a goal to race in the world championships. We won five times the world title. I am very thankful for that. Many people supported me while winning these titles I want to thank everyone for that. For Kawasaki Puccetti Racing Team and for my fans I will be last time on the track in Italy.”
Hikari Okubo, stated: “I think I can have a good race weekend in Imola because I like this track. The Kawasaki Puccetti Racing team is also an Italian team, so I need get my best result possible. The previous races this season have not given me a happy result but we are refreshed in spirit and we will restart the year from this race on.”
Other Kawasaki runners at Imola have a high chance of scoring well, with Anthony West (EAB antwest Racing Kawasaki) looking to score strongly again, as he continues his privateer season. He is 11th overall now, after a no-score in the previous round in the Netherlands.
ESS Rider, Rob Hartog (Team Hartog Against Cancer) who only races at the European rounds, leads the ESS rankings. He is now 13th overall in the full championship standings too, even against riders who race all the rounds.
Michael Canducci (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) will have a new team-mate for his home round this weekend, in the shape of Argentinean rider Javier Ezequiel Iturrioz (Team GoEleven Kawasaki).
Full-time runner Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) will be joined in Imola by fellow Kawasaki runners, and ESS competitors, Wayne Tessels (Chromeburner Wayne’s Racingteam MTM) and Peter Sebestyen (SSP Hungary Team).