Kenan Sofuoglu says the overall strength of the Kawasaki package was instrumental in him defying pre-race expectations to beat Yakhnich Yamaha's Sam Lowes during the opening round of the World Supersport Championship at Phillip Island.
The reigning champion spent much of the WSS curtain raiser chasing down Lowes as the young Briton smashed lap records in free practice and qualifying, but a change of set-up prior to the race would transform the Turk into a stronger contender.
Swapping the lead with Lowes on five occasions, though Sofuoglu was seemingly losing out to his rival through the bends, he was evidently quicker in a straight line as he repeatedly slipstreamed back through.
Eventually cracking his rival with four laps to go as he steadily pulled away, though Sofuoglu was certainly impressed with Lowes's performance over the course of the weekend, he believes the ZX-6R's overall package is why he would eventually prevail against the odds.
“It all worked out very well in the end. Sam Lowes did a good job all weekend and it was not easy to catch him, but we kept working to find the way to save the tyre for 15 laps and in the morning warm-up I did not give up. This morning I told mechanics we should do it in the warm-up and show everyone we could do it in the race. Warm-up was good and also the race - the last three or four laps especially.
“The plan was to give it everything and the lap times was almost at qualification pace for those last three laps. I was happy because the team were working very well and the bike also. The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R is still the best bike in Supersport. Everybody thought after the qualifying that another bike would come and beat everyone else but Kawasaki power is still there and it is a great package for the full race.”
Sofuoglu is bidding for his fourth WSS title in 2013 after wrapping up a third crown with the factory-backed Lorenzini Kawasaki team last year. This year he continues with the Kawasaki factory, albeit under the new Mahi Racing banner.