Five-time World Supersport champion Kenan Sofuoglu has announced his impending retirement from racing following injury, and will race for the final time this weekend at Imola.
Sofuoglu was on course for a sixth title last year despite missing the first two rounds with a wrist injury, but his hopes were dashed when he suffered a broken pelvis in a crash at Magny-Cours in qualifying.
He returned for the finale in Qatar, but was beaten to the title by GRT Yamaha rider Lucas Mahias.
Opting against surgery on his pelvis over the winter, Sofuoglu injured it again when he was launched from his Puccetti Kawasaki due to a rear tyre failure at Phillip Island's Stoner corner.
Rattled by the accident, and keen to spend more time with his family, Sofuoglu – who hasn't raced since the opening round – has decided to call time on his glittering racing career with a farewell outing to mark his 20th year of racing at Imola.
“As the President wishes I am going to retire from racing this weekend, and I will celebrate my 20 years of racing anniversary this weekend,” Sofuoglu said,
“In the last couple of months I had a few injures which made my family very afraid, as well as our President.
“I have decided to retire from racing earlier than I originally thought, but I can’t say I am sad because I have already coached and trained a few Turkish riders who will carry the flag for me.
“I started my racing career 20 years ago, with a goal to race in the world championships, and I have won the world title five times; I am very thankful for that. Many people supported me while winning these titles and I want to thank everyone for that."
Sofuoglu made his full-time WSS debut in 2006 with the Ten Kate Honda team, winning the title with the Dutch outfit in 2007 before making an unsuccessful step up to World Superbikes in 2008.
Returning to WSS in 2009, a second title followed for the Turkish rider in '10 with Ten Kate, though a third would not come until 2012 after a year in Moto2.
Now on a Kawasaki, first with the Lorenzini team and then Puccetti, Sofuoglu took the 600cc world crown in '12, '15 and '16 to become the most successful rider in the classes history.
On top of five world titles, Sofuoglu has tallied up a staggering 85 podiums and 43 victories from his 125 starts in WSS.
Sofuoglu will continue to be a presence in the World Superbike paddock as he acts as a coach to the numerous Turkish riders in the various classes, including Puccetti rider Toprak Razgatlioglu.