Kenan Sofuoglu says he is determined to secure a record-breaking fourth World Supersport Championship title in 2014 after losing out to Sam Lowes in 2013.
The Turkish rider, title winner with Honda in 2007 and 2010, and with Kawasaki 2012, is comfortably the most successful rider in World Supersport history having accumulated 26 wins over seven seasons.
It is a tally he built upon in 2013 aboard the Mahi Kawasaki with five wins, but he would ultimately come up short against Yakhnich Yamaha's Sam Lowes, whose greater consistency would deny Sofuoglu a fourth title success.
However, while Lowes's switch to Moto2 means Sofuoglu is arguably the big title favourite in 2014, the man himself is convinced he won't go unchallenged in 2014, identifying the likes of Jules Cluzel (Yakhnich MV Agusta), Michael van der Mark, Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda) and Kev Coghlan (DMC) as potential rivals.
"I can't say I'm disappointed for not winning the title in 2013, we finished as runner-up and this is an acceptable result but I'm already working very hard to get back on top,” Sofuoglu, who will remain with Mahi Kawasaki, said. “I enjoyed the battles with Sam (Lowes) last year and I'm sure there are many more to come in 2014.
“There are always riders in this series able to challenge for the win and this year will make no difference: Cluzel, van der Mark, Coghlan, Kennedy, Zanetti, Rolfo and Russo will be up front I'm sure."
Touching upon rumours he would return to World Superbikes with Mahi Kawasaki in 2014, Sofuoglu – who tested the ZX-10R in 2013 - insists he is happier at Supersport level as it suits his riding style.
"World Supersport was my dream when I was racing the Turkish Supersport Championship back in 2001. I tried with WSBK (in 2008 with Ten Kate Honda) but I didn't enjoy it and I think my style definitely suits the 600cc. machines better.
“I really enjoy riding my Kawasaki ZX-6R, we will be testing on 19-20 January at Portimao with the brand new bike and we'll also try out different forks. This will be our first test since the end of last season."
Mahi Kawasaki is expected to run a single ZX-6R for Sofuoglu in the Supersport class, plus an EVO-specification ZX-10R for Fabien Foret in the World Superbike class.