The pressure is off, apart from in the World Supersport Manufactures’ standings…
The 2015 FIM Supersport World Championship has been a season full of raw emotion, on the track as well as off it. After two seasons off the top spot, Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) is back in business with a record-extending fourth world title, thanks to the second place finish he collected at Magny-Cours in France two weekends ago. The stunning 31-year-old from Turkey is the most successful World Supersport rider by some way, not just in terms of world titles but also for race wins, podium finishes, front row starts, fastest race laps and total points scored. There is just one small detail to take care of: the pole position record of 23, which can be clinched should Sofuoglu top the qualifying session this coming Saturday.
Arguably, the championship for riders was realistically over in Jerez. Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was a season-long challenger after winning the opening at Phillip Island plus several more successes and some very hard-fought battles with Sofuoglu; however, in Spain the Frenchman picked up injuries that ended his season prematurely. Sofuoglu also suffered an ordeal this year, with the death of baby son Hamza. Emotionally, the title has been dedicated to Hamza, whose life was helplessly cut short so soon.
The third huge element in this year’s title battle was American PJ Jacobsen. Since switching to the CORE’’ Motorsport Honda Thailand outfit, the New Yorker has been on scintillating form which continued with his second victory from three races last time out in France. He now aims for a third success of the season prior to an even fiercer title challenge in 2016, with this year having been disrupted by an unscheduled team move mid-season.
Neither Jacobsen nor Sofuoglu saw the Qatar podium in 2014. That was occupied by Dutchman Michael van der Mark, ending his title-winning campaign on the top of the Doha rostrum, as Thailand’s Ratthapark Wilairot and France’s Cluzel completed the top three.
The top three fight on which all focus is centred this weekend will be that of the Manufactures’ Championship – the last title to be decided in WorldSBK this year. Japan’s Kawasaki holds a sizeable lead of 15 points over Italy’s MV Agusta, with Honda another Japanese marque still in contention and 20 points in arrears of the leader.
The last World Supersport race of 2015 begins on Sunday at 8:30pm local time (GMT +3).