A second place finish would prove more than enough for Kenan Sofuoglu to wrap up the 2012 World Supersport Championship, the third of his career and the first world title for Kawasaki in more than a decade.
A four-time race winner already this season, Sofuoglu came into the penultimate round needing a mere fourth place finish to add to his 2007 and 2010 titles, though he did make things somewhat difficult for himself when he could only qualify seventh.
Nonetheless, he was quickly embroiled in an entertaining scrap at the front of the field come the race, Sofuoglu shrugging off the odd error to repeatedly challenge for the lead.
Indeed, with the lead group rarely swelling to include more than four riders, Sofuoglu needed to merely stay within the pack to complete his objective, even if he admitted he did want to celebrate his title with a podium result.
He duly achieved his aim when he followed Jules Cluzel across the line for second place, in doing so becoming the first rider to win three World Supersport titles.
“We knew that we did not have to come to Portugal to win the race to win the title. We had a few problems with set-up in qualifying but we were in good shape today and I could take the lead. I made some mistakes and dropped back. I knew I only had to finish fourth but in the last couple of laps I thought I would try to take a podium so I finished second.
“Sometimes in the race I was thinking that I was already going to be World Champion, so I was asking myself why I had to take more risk, so I was careful, especially on the last lap not to attack Cluzel in the lead.
The first title for Kawasaki since Andrew Pitt was triumphant in 2001, the result is also a breakthrough for Lorenzini Racing, who only assumed the running of the manufacturer team this year when Provec progressed to Superbikes.
“It was great to win the title with Kawasaki but it has not been an easy year for us. I have had some problems with my knee injury but we won the title with one race to spare and I am very happy to have done it with Kawasaki. They gave me a good opportunity to win the title with them and finally I was able to give them the answer, so big thanks to them. I am very happy for them and Lorenzini.
“It is difficult to compare championships with each other but at one point this season I was very afraid because I had some bad luck but the last couple of races I knew could win the title without any mistakes in the final rounds. Winning races brings me confidence. To win the title in the first year with Kawasaki makes me very happy.”
As well as having now won three titles in World Supersports, Sofuoglu is the series' most successful rider having won 21 of the 68 races he has started.