A spirited and brave return to the track by five time World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu culminated in a strong second row starting position for Saturday’s 15-lap WorldSSP race in Qatar. Lucas Mahias, the championship leader by 20 points from Kenan, set the fastest Superpole lap and starts the race from pole position.
Sofuoglu, having only been declared fit to ride following additional medical checks after the first practice session in Losail, has been strong in every session from the beginning at Losail. He is now all out to try and win the race on Saturday to keep a hold on his number one plate for next season.
Set-up challenges have held Anthony West back from displaying his best form so far, as he continues to learn the secrets of his machine during what is only his second WorldSSP race for the team.
An experienced competitor at Qatar on other types of machinery Anthony is confident that now he understands what has been holding back his lap times until now. He will use warm-up to evaluate another tyre option and then start the final race of the season under the Losail floodlights.
Kenan Sofuoglu, stated: “I feel good and I am getting more and more confident. Every session I find more feeling with the bike and better lines. Qualification went well, although we did not get on the front row. This was the main goal. I think coming from my bed to be in fourth position is not bad. Except for Lucas’ one fast lap everybody is pretty close, about two to three tenths from each other, so that gap is definitely not a problem for the race. I will try my best tomorrow to win the race. I have come here to try and win and not to ride for fourth, fifth, or sixth position. I think we have to find something also on the bike because we have had a lot of sliding on the front. We will try to find a way but generally we are happy to be here. There was a big question mark over whether I would be racing in Qatar or not, so I am happy to be here at Losail.”
Anthony West, stated: “I think now I have found too much grip from the rear and that means we are pushing the front. I am using a different front tyre, one that I have never used before. I am finally pushing it to the limit but now I realise that it does not have the same grip as the rear. In the turns it feels like the front is just constantly sliding all the way through and that means the bike is not finishing the turn. My corner speed is good but I cannot open the throttle on the exit. I am beginning to realise that I am waiting for the front to grip. It has taken me yesterday and today’s sessions to realise this. I think that is because I am just not that experienced with this bike, and the front tyre is new to me. We will try the tyre I raced with in Jerez to see if that works better. For the race it should be OK, it is just to do that one fast lap I was trying to push.”
Michael Canducci (3570 Puccetti Racing FMI Kawasaki) finished tenth in Superpole 2. Gino Rea (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) just missed out on an SP2 place by one position after Superpole 1, while his team-mate Kazuki Watanabe (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) was 17th today.
Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) qualified 19th, Lachlan Epis (Response RE Racing Kawasaki) 24th and Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) 26th.