Kenan Sofuoglu gave everyone a sharp reminder of his ability on a Supersport machine as he snatched a superb pole position for the final round of the season in Portugal, a year since he last rode the Ten Kate bike.
Sofuoglu, who won eight races on the way to a dominant 2007 title victory, returns to Supersports this weekend in preparation for 2009 having prematurely ended a dismal maiden season in the Superbike category.
However, any worries his reputation will have been harmed by his failed foray onto more powerful machinery became unfounded as he dominated the qualifying session around the Portimao circuit.
Admitting he had misgivings as he took to the track for the first dry session of the weekend, the Turk nonetheless insists he knew he could be quick because the Honda bike 'a part' of him.
“Yesterday was wet and, although everything felt great, I still wasn't sure how things would be in the dry today,” he said. “But I got a great feeling from the CBR600RR and everything went fantastically well today too. I didn't have to try so hard on my fastest lap but after that I tried to improve and started to lean the bike a lot. But I was always in control because this is just my bike – it feels like a part of me.”
He will be joined on the front row by new champion Andrew Pitt, who squeezed into fourth place. The Aussie rider also had a kind word to say about his new team-mate.
“I'm happy enough to be starting from the front row. I pushed really hard at the end but the combination of a bit of traffic and a couple of mistakes from me didn't let me go any faster.
"My only real concern is the rear tyre for tomorrow because it's been tearing up a bit on this new surface. Other than that, the bike is great and everything feels really good. Big congratulations to Kenan, too – the whole team is really happy for him.”