BREAKTHROUGH WINS: the WorldSSP victors whose first win led to big things
Following on from Bahattin Sofuoglu’s maiden win in WorldSSP, we take a look at some of the riders whose first win led to even more success
There was a first-time winner last time out in the FIM Supersport World Championship as Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) took his maiden victory at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and he will be looking to add more to his collection as the season progresses. With his first win in the bag, we take a look at some of the riders whose first victories in WorldSSP propelled them on to bigger things including World Championship success. Can Sofuoglu follow in their footsteps?
SOUFOGLU’S FIRST OF 43: victory at Assen
Five-time Champion Kenan Sofuoglu claimed his first win in WorldSSP at Assen in 2006, his first full season in the Championship. He won by more than four seconds ahead of Kevin Curtain for the first of his 43 WorldSSP wins and it sent him on a path to greatness. In ten full seasons of WorldSSP, Sofuoglu, who now manages Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK), Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and nephew Bahattin Sofuoglu, went on to win five Championships, 43 races and claimed 85 podiums.
DAVIES PULLS CLEAR AT ASSEN: same venue as Sofuoglu
Before entering WorldSBK and becoming a three-time runner-up, Chaz Davies made his name in WorldSSP. In two full seasons, he claimed six victories which all came in his title-winning campaign in 2011 where he won six out of 12 races. The first came at Assen, like Sofuoglu, where he blew away the opposition to win by more than seven seconds ahead of Fabien Foret and that was followed up by wins at Monza, Aragon, Silverstone, Nurburgring and Portimao as he was crowned World Champion.
HOME VICTORY: Michael van der Mark takes stunning home win
The first win is always special for a rider but the first win coming on home soil must feel even sweeter and Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) can vouch for this. In his second WorldSSP campaign, he took victory at Assen by 9.5 seconds ahead Florian Marino for his first of six wins and, like Davies a few years before, it led to a title in 2014. His Assen win was followed up with victories at Donington Park, Sepang, Portimao, Jerez and Lusail before he moved to WorldSBK with Honda; the manufacturer he took the WorldSSP title with.
STARTING 2023 IN STUNNING FORM: one win leads to another for Bulega
Ducati returned to WorldSSP in 2022 and were the only manufacturer not to claim victory, although not without trying. 17 podiums were scored in 2022 including seven second place finishes, but the first win since 2005 eluded them. That was until the 2023 Australian Round, the season opener, when Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team), took victory in Race 1 at Phillip Island. This was followed up by Race 2 victory and then the double at Assen as well. In total, he has five wins from eight races this season; can he follow in the footsteps of Sofuoglu, Davies and van der Mark and be crowned World Champion after his breakthrough win?
HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Turkish youngsters finding form…
Oncu has been in WorldSSP since 2020 and had been edging closer to victory ever since, and his first win finally came in Race 1 at Mandalika this year. He was unable to follow that up with Race 2 victory, or in Race 1 at Assen, and he missed the Catalunya Round through injury. When he returns, he’ll be hoping his first win was a breakthrough and leads to more. Bahattin Sofuoglu took his maiden podium and win in the same round when he finished third in Race 1 in Barcelona and won Race 2, returning the Sofuoglu name to the top step of the podium. He showed strong pace towards the end of his maiden WorldSSP campaign, so will he be able to repeat his victory as the season progresses?
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