Two-time title winner Kenan Sofuoglu marked his return to the World Supersport Championship with a convincing victory for Kawasaki DeltaFin at Phillip Island.
The Turk, who won the title for Ten Kate Honda in 2007 and 2010, returns to WSS competition this year as a Kawasaki rider following an unfulfilling season at Moto2 level and duly showed his experience to bide his time and strike for the win with just four laps remaining.
With the race reduced to 15 laps in an effort to negate the effect of scorching track temperatures, the sprint began with Sam Lowes taking the lead from second on the grid, heading up PTR counterpart Jules Cluzel, Intermoto Step Kawasaki's Fabien Foret, Sofuoglu and pole sitter Broc Parkes.
It was Lowes, WSS debutant Cluzel and Foret that made the early running as they swapped positions continuously over the first ten laps, all three enjoying stints in the lead of the race.
However, their dispute would duly allow Sofuoglu to ease himself into the equation, the former champion showing his experience by passing Lowes, Foret and Cluzel within a lap of one another on lap ten/eleven.
Going from fourth to first, it would prove the decisive pass of the race, with eventual second place man Foret being hampered by the attentions of his countryman Cluzel.
Indeed, having been unable to break clear of Cluzel until the start of the final lap, Foret did an excellent job to get the gap down to Sofuoglu into the last few corners, but would ultimately run out of time to make an attempt at passing.
As such, Sofuoglu was left to complete his 18th WSS victory on his first appearance as a Kawasaki rider, while Foret made it a ZX-6R 1-2 just 0.078secs behind.
Having paced many of the pre-season tests and practice, pole sitter Parkes was disappointingly never a factor in the battle for victory, but made some amends by passing a feisty Cluzel for third on the final lap of the race.