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WSS: Sofuoglu on top after Island thriller
1 January 1901
Kenan Sofuoglu prevailed in an exceptionally tight first World Supersport round of the season in Australia following a race that saw seven different riders experience a stint at the front of the field.
Although the Turk won from pole position, Sofuoglu had to work exceptionally hard for victory, dropping to as low as ninth position in the early stages before the picking his way back up the order.
Even so, it took a last lap move on both Ten Kate team-mate Andrew Pitt and an inspired Anthony West to cement victory for himself following a race littered with position changes.
In all, Sofuoglu, Pitt, West, Cal Crutchlow, Joan Lascorz, Fabien Foret and Eugene Laverty enjoyed stints in the lead, while there were times when a field of 12 riders were lapping closer than they had lined up on the grid.
A difficult race to call all the way up to the chequered flag, Lascorz and Foret made the early running over the opening two laps, before Crutchlow marked his WSS debut by taking his turn in the lead on lap four, albeit for just a few corners. Laverty would also go on to assume his place at the front on lap eight, leading for three laps but eventually fading in the closing stages.
With the long home straight allowing for copious slipstreaming, multiple overtaking manoeuvres would occasionally see some riders reach the first corner several positions lower than they had crossed the finish line.
Nonetheless, despite keeping a low profile in the early stages as his rivals fought amongst themselves, Sofuoglu stalked his way back into contention over the second half of the race, taking the lead for the first time on lap 12.
After losing it again three laps from the finish, Sofuoglu began the final lap in third position, but slipped past West into second at turn one before punishing a slight error by Pitt at turn two to snatch back a lead he would hold on to all the way to the chequered flag.
Despite his best attempts to creep back through, Pitt had to be content with second, ahead of countryman West, whose third position from 12th on the grid marks an impressive debut result for him as a full-time Supersport rider.
Losing touch with the leaders in the closing stages, Crutchlow would be classified a fine fourth by just one thousandth of a second from Laverty, the Irishman losing the position on the final corner when he ran slightly wide.
Mark Aitchison made it three local riders and five Hondas inside the top six on the Althea machine, ahead of Foret and Lascorz, the pair unable to maintain their strong starts all the way to the finish line. Intermoto's Massimo Roccoli was ninth, while Triumph's Gianluca Nannelli rounded out the top ten.
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