The Turkish youngster claimed his first WorldSSP podium on Saturday before taking his first victory in Race 2 on Sunday
A new face with a very familiar name stood on top of the FIM Supersport World Championship at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya during the Prosecco DOC Catalunya Round. Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) followed up his first podium in Race 1 with his first victory in Race 2 to take his first win in WorldSSP and to return the famous Sofuoglu name to the top step of the WorldSSP podium, with his uncle, five-time WorldSSP Champion Kenan Sofuoglu, on-site to see another of his riders take victory.
Sofuoglu’s Catalunya Round started off successfully as he topped Free Practice 1 on Friday and he was tenth in Free Practice 2 but took third in the combined classification. His strong pace translated into his best Tissot Superpole result in WorldSSP as he took ninth on the grid; his first time starting a race in WorldSSP inside the first three rows. Despite starting from the third row, he was able to move into the lead fight early on in Race 1 and led his first laps in WorldSSP before dropping to third place, behind teammate Marcel Schroetter, to take his first WorldSSP podium.
Discussing his first podium, Sofuoglu said: “I started in ninth position and, at the start, I just tried to get in front. The target was the podium. In the beginning of the race, I saw I had more. In the last part of the race, I lost some grip and just tried to save my position. I said before the target was the podium, so I had some great battles with my teammate and Manzi and after those great battles, I got the podium. I’m very happy.”
In Race 2, the Turkish star once again hauled himself into contention in the lead group like he did in Race 1 but he led for more laps, 13 in Race 2 compared to two in Race 1, as he withstood a challenge from Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha), and Sofuoglu and Manzi battled hard in Saturday’s Race 1, and teammate Schroetter to claim his first victory. Initially, Manzi had crossed the line in second but a penalty for Manzi dropped him behind Schroetter to give MV Agusta their first 1-2 finish since Phillip Island in 2015.
Reacting after his first victory, Sofuoglu said: “We had third position in Race 1, which was my first podium, and Kenan was here. He told me my mistakes and when I started Warm Up, I just tried to keep my pace. In the race, I tried to remember what Kenan said to me. We finished in first position, many years after Kenan who is a legend and he was always on top, winning many Championships. I’m very happy to put his surname on top again in WorldSSP. I wanted this so much but, for me, it’s come early! I didn’t expect it to come early like this. It’s a great step for me, the team and MV Agusta and I’m really happy. After Kenan, Can and now me finished in first place, I will try to keep this strong pace.”
The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is one Sofuoglu enjoys after he claimed victory there in 2021 when racing in WorldSSP300, and he also scored two top-seven positions at the Catalan venue as a rookie in WorldSSP last year. He became the third Turkish rider to win in the Championship, after Kenan Sofuoglu and Oncu, while it was also Turkey’s 100th podium in the Championship. The country is fifth in the all-time list of podiums by nation, only five behind Great Britain in fourth.
Watch more incredible WorldSSP action throughout 2023 using the WorldSBK VideoPass!