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Jun 25, 2013

Mahi Racing Team India May Field Sofuoglu On A Kawasaki Superbike In 2014

eni FIM Superbike World Championship: Three-time FIM Supersport World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu testing a factory Kawasaki ZX-10R Superbike at Motorland Aragon.
Sofuoglu Tries Out KRT Ninja ZX-10R Power At Recent Aragon Test Sessions

During a recent test for the Kawasaki Racing Team Superbike squad at Motorland Aragon WSS Champion Kenan Sofuoglu was given the chance to ride the official Kawasaki SBK machine for a few sessions

Sofuoglu is part of the Kawasaki Mahi Racing Team India Supersport World Championship team at present, having won the title with Kawasaki in 2012, making the Turkish rider a three-time WSS champion in all. He was invited to ride the official KHI Superbike to see how he understood the machine that Tom Sykes and Loris Baz compete with on a regular basis in 2013.

Kenan was given approximately three hours of testing on the KRT machine and provided good feedback and comments, noting the big difference between his regular Ninja ZX-6R and the full Superbike Spec Ninja ZX-10R, particularly in the field of electronics and the absolute levels of pure race equipment.

It was also a useful test to help Kawasaki start to understand the potential of new technical rules, which are expected to come in for the 2014 season, instigated in order to help championship rights holders Dorna to put even more bikes on grid next year.

Kenan is a possible candidate to ride a satellite bike in 2014 under Mahi team management. Kawasaki will continue working on the evolving new technical rules, which should offer the same competitive package as Tom and Loris are using now.

Kenan Sofuoglu, Rider: "I have to say thank you very much to Kawasaki as I recently got the opportunity to test the full Superbike and get a feeling for it. What I understood from this short session on track is that a modern day Superbike has a lot of electronics, even compared to a Supersport bike and that aspect of SBK racing is also very much geared to every individual rider. I think I would need to spend many days on the bike to find out where you need electronics. Mahi racing wants to move to Superbike next year so there are many things to speak about now. Kawasaki has opened a door for me with this test so thanks to them and the team for that opportunity. One thing is sure - the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R is one of the very best Superbikes out there.”

Pere Riba, Crew Chief: "We did three hours with Kenan and we made the bike’s riding position similar to the one used by Tom Sykes, although Kenan actually used Loris’ bike. In Supersport the bikes ‘request’ that you keep the speed up into the corner and at the apex of the corner. The Superbike, or any other bigger bike, requests that you use the power on the exit of the corner much more than corner speed. So any rider needs some time to adapt to a Superbike. We made some changes for Kenan and he felt a little bit better on the bike. Importantly, Kenan understood the difference between a Supersport machine and a Superbike but to make the change just takes time. He felt good on the Superbike and even compared to the WSS bike he found it lighter in changes of direction, in keeping the line, and in flicking the bike to the apex.”

Guim Roda, Team Manager: "Kawasaki Europe asked us to provide Kenan with a ride on the Superbike in a private test as thanks for his great job in the 2012 WSS championship and also because the 2014 rules should, for sure, allow Kawasaki have more Ninja's ZX-10R on grid. As the Kawasaki Racing Team we will also be involved to support KME and Dorna with this idea, so that made it a pleasure from us to invite Kenan on this experience. One of our main sponsors is Mahi and that was another reason to get involved because it looks like next year they are thinking of putting one bike in WSBK and continue in WSS with two riders. To manage the overall package for a competitive bike and rider we need to consider the team who will manage this also. Maybe this is the most important point to work on for 2014 for Dorna, because for sure they will need to support teams in order to increase their budgets and also find an even more professional way to work. Everybody is working hard on that, so we expect a 2014 season with more bikes on grid, more TV coverage and a better show!”

Amit Sandill, Director/Team Principal Mahi Racing Team India: "I am really glad that Kawasaki, Steve from KME and Guim of KRT have given Kenan the opportunity to get astride the factory Superbike. As people may be aware, depending on the plans of Kawasaki with our team, we would like to step up the game and move to Superbikes next year - in an ideal world. Therefore, Kenan's test was the very first move towards this, even though it was done at short notice. While Kenan did not know exactly what to expect, he does feel that given more time on the bike he may well be fast enough to challenge the top third of the grid. It’s a pretty tough ask. Of course, for the team as well, the challenge will be even more than that of Supersport, but we feel that it is really the way to go - not the least in terms of media and television coverage, especially in India. Anyway, Kenan is currently completely focused on winning his fourth Supersport World Championship title this year and he has this task ahead of him now."