Victory for HANNspree Ten Kate Honda in season opener HANNspree Ten Kate Honda dominated the season opener of the World Supersport Championship at Losail International Circuit in Qatar today with Kenan Sofuoglu storming to victory on the new...
Victory for HANNspree Ten Kate Honda in season opener
HANNspree Ten Kate Honda dominated the season opener of the World Supersport Championship at Losail International Circuit in Qatar today with Kenan Sofuoglu storming to victory on the new CBR600RR. The young Turkish rider fought a fierce battle for the race win. However, team-mate and defending champion Sebastien Charpentier saw his hopes dashed when he crashed out on the penultimate lap while leading the pack.
The HANNspree Ten Kate Honda riders were involved in a three-way fight for first place with Kevin Curtain from the outset. However, Sofuoglu stole the lead on lap seven and proceeded to open up an advantage over the Australian.
Charpentier was never far behind and by lap nine was swapping places with Curtain for second position. On lap ten Charpentier once again seized the advantage and made it stick. For the next six laps the HANNspree Ten Kate Honda duo put in an impressive display of inch-perfect riding to dominate the fiercely competitive 18-lap race.
On lap 16, Frenchman Charpentier grasped an opportunity to pass team-mate Sofuoglu. However, the lead was short-lived as he made an unfortunate mistake halfway round the 5.4km circuit on a left hand hairpin and slid into the gravel after losing the front end of the Honda. Charpentier's season opener came to a premature end when he was forced to retire from the race after being unable to restart the bike.
This opened the way for rising star Sofuoglu to pass the chequered flag almost 3.5 seconds clear of second place contender Kevin Curtain and more than six seconds in front of third place Katsuaki Fujiwara. The HANNspree Ten Kate Honda team head to the next round in Phillip Island with the championship lead on 25 points.
Ronald ten Kate, Team Manager:
"Of course I am really happy with Kenan's result today. He rode very maturely and gave us the result we were hoping for with the new Honda -- a win in the first race. My feelings are obviously a bit mixed because we could have challenged for first and second places. Both riders put up a good fight out there. It was a tough race and they both wanted to win the first one. Unfortunately Sebastien lost the front so he was out in the gravel. He couldn't pick up the bike again because there was quite a bit of damage. Instead of being down though we are feeling happy because we have shown the potential of the new bike and we have plenty of races ahead to develop the CBR600RR even further. I am amazed to come away with a win at the first round and I'd like to thank the riders, the tuners and the whole HANNspree Ten Kate Honda team."
"I am obviously very disappointed with the outcome of this race. I was so close to the finish and I think we could have easily got a first and second for the team, but I lost the front end and couldn't recover from it. This has happened now, so I just need to look forward to the next round. It is only the first race and we have plenty of time to make it up."
"I am really happy. I said yesterday that I wasn't happy with the times in qualifying but I didn't worry because I knew I could be better for the race. After three or four laps I knew I could challenge Curtain and Sebastien. Then when Sebastien crashed I just had to keep my place to take first position. I am really pleased with the result and would like to thank HANNspree Ten Kate Honda for developing the bike. Also a special thanks to my mechanics who have worked so hard to bring the bike to this level. It's a new season, a new bike, a new sponsor and I couldn't be happier."