WSBK » Kenan Sofuoglu
Born into a racing family, Sofuoglu has been steeped in the cult of motorcycling since he was a boy. With his father owning a motorcycle shop, the outlet of two-wheels was available to Kenan from an early age and the young Turk sharpened his adolescent riding skills by taking scooters into the countryside near his birthplace of Adapazari, performing stunts and wheelies for his own amusement.
The small scale racing scene in Turkey saw him win the amateur championship in his first year of 2000, often on tracks with sub one minute lap times. Finishing third in the pro scene the next year, behind both of his brothers, his talents soon outgrew the limits of his native land.
The family firm decided that as the youngest rider of the three, Kenan should be the one to take the big step of moving to Germany, in 2002. The family enjoyed the support of friends already resident in that country and despite an almost non-existent budget Sofuoglu joined the 600cc Yamaha Cup competition. After a faltering start he enjoyed a run of late season form that gave him the title in year one. A further year of competition in his adopted country, this time in the 600c Supersport class, saw him second overall, no mean feat in a country the size of Germany.
Improving his language skills in German and then in English, Sofuoglu joined his Yamaha Germany team when they created a European Superstock wing in 2004. After another learning period he became a true force by season end, finishing third overall and putting himself in place as the next season’s favourite.
A mercurial 2005 season, with three race wins, seven podiums and two DNFs thrown in, saw him in contention at the last round, only losing out on the crown on the last corner of the last race of the year. Breaking his hand mid-season was not in the script at all, but against the odds he bounced back with a second at Brno and a win at Brands, results he thought impossible after suffering a potentially season-threatening injury.
In 2006, being drafted into the Winston Ten Kate Honda, proved to be a pivotal moment in his career. Some dazzling early season rides gave way to a mid-season of doubt as the responsibility of leading the team (following injury for reigning champion Charpentier) fell on his young shoulders, but he rallied at season end to record not only his first two victories, at Assen and Lausitz, but to help his team-mate Charpentier snatch his second crown at the very final round.
Sofuoglu built on that strong end-of-season form for 2007 - and began the season in perfect style with victory at Qatar, after Charpentier fell. While Charpentier was later injured, Sofuoglu went from strength-to-strength - winning eight of the 13 rounds and finishing off the podium just once to wrap up the world title with second place at Brands Hatch (round ten).
After such a stunning season, Sofuoglu's graduation to the premier WSBK class looked assured and he was duly confirmed as staying with Ten Kate to ride a third CBR1000RR alongside Carlos Checa and Ryuichi Kiyonari in the 2008 World Superbike championship.
2000: Champion Turkish 600 Supersport Amateur Class
2001: 3rd Turkish 600 Supersport Professional Class
2002: German Yamaha R6 Cup champion
2003: 2nd German Supersport Championship
2004: 3rd European Superstock Championship
2005: 2nd FIM Superstock Cup, Yamaha
2006: 3rd World Supersport, Winston Ten Kate Honda
2007: World Supersport champion, Hannspree Ten Kate Honda