After Bahattin Sofuoglu secured his first WorldSSP victory in Barcelona, his uncle, Kenan, spoke about the possibility of Bahattin following in Toprak Razgatlioglu’s footsteps
The 2023 FIM Supersport World Championship has featured three new race winners in ten races so far with two of them coming from Kenan Sofuoglu’s umbrella of riders. Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) took victory in Race 1 at Mandalika while Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), Kenan’s nephew, took his first win in Race 2 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Speaking ahead of the Championship’s visit to Misano, Kenan spoke about his nephew’s future in the paddock and the potential of following in the footsteps of 2021 Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK).
Bahattin Sofuoglu made his WorldSSP debut last year as he competed in the WorldSSP Challenge and he won that with 72 points to his name, taking a best finish of fifth on three occasions. For his second season, Sofuoglu is taking on every round including the flyaway rounds in Australia, Indonesia and Argentina. The highlight of his season so far came at the Catalunya Round at the start of May when he took third in Race 1 and won Race 2 after a last-lap fight with Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha).
Looking back on Bahattin’s win, Kenan said: “Many years ago, I was excited when Toprak won, but he made it so we were used to winning with him! For Bahattin, I was still waiting. I believed he still needed time. It took Can almost four years to win in WorldSSP and for Bahattin, I thought maybe he would get podiums but, especially in Barcelona, he was extremely strong. When he was on the last lap, battling with Manzi, I was shaking! It was like many years ago with Toprak when he started to win and started to fight with Jonny in WorldSBK.”
Although his second season has not reached the halfway stage yet, with Round 6 at Donington Park marking the halfway point of the campaign, Kenan spoke about Bahattin’s future and whether he could follow in the footsteps of Razgatlioglu into WorldSBK. The 2021 Champion’s path to WorldSBK involved racing in STK600 in 2014 and 2015, winning the title in his second campaign, before two seasons in STK100. He finished second in 2017 after a season-long fight with Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) with just eight points separating the pair.
Discussing whether Bahattin could follow in Razgatlioglu’s footsteps and compete in WorldSBK, Kenan said: “I think Toprak was very lucky because, at that time, there was a 1000cc category. It’s a much better way to go into WorldSBK. Riding in World Supersport and moving to WorldSBK is not very easy. It can take longer to adapt to the bike, especially if you are a Champion in WorldSSP going into WorldSBK and accepting finishes in fifth, sixth, eighth, tenth… it’s not very easy mentally. The New Generation of WorldSSP features 800cc, 955cc bikes so maybe the New Generation riders are luckier to move to WorldSBK because the direction is changing. Bahattin is riding an 800cc bike right now. I’m advising him, if he’s winning the Championship, to move to WorldSBK and not Moto2™ and Bahattin wants that direction. For example, maybe Can wants to move to Moto2™ for the future. I’m always asking the riders what they have in mind and I try to support them as it’s their dream. I think Bahattin’s dream is to move to WorldSBK like Toprak did.”
Speaking ahead of the Emilia-Romagna Round, Kenan spoke about Razgatlioglu’s switch to BMW from the 2024 season which was announced prior to WorldSBK’s visit to Misano. He said: “BMW are a very big brand and they are very excited to give us what we need. Toprak has enough talent to cover missing points. He has a two-year contract and, I believe, we will win the Championship. I can’t say which year, but we come to BMW to make BMW and ourselves Champions. They are fully ready for what Toprak needs to make it, even in the future. If Toprak asks, BMW are ready to deliver to Toprak what he needs to make the bike a Championship winning bike. This partnership came together to be Champions. We came together to make BMW World Champions. This is our main goal.”