World Superbikes: Kenan Sofuoglu - 'I have a lot of respect for James Toseland'

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Kenan Sofuoglu went from 21st in qualifying to running as high as fifth in race two at Phillip Island last weekend.

The young Turk is on an incredibly steep learning curve but he’s showing pace and consistency in his rookie season.

Since getting onto a Superbike he’s also found new respect for his peers, none more so than Britain’s World Superbike champion James Toseland.

MCN sat down with the 2007 World Supersport champion for his thoughts on World Superbikes.
MCN: How was your second ever World Superbike meeting at Phillip Island?

Kenan Sofuoglu: “It’s been hard but I had a good weekend. I started from 21st position and at one point I was in the top five.

“I knew that after 15 laps I would be tired, but I just said to myself to do my best. When I saw P5 on my pit board that was the sign, that was the light for me for the future because I know now that I can do it.”
MCN: In pre-season testing and the opening race in Qatar you struggled with fatigue – is your condition improving?

Kenan Sofuoglu: “I knew it would be a hard weekend here at Phillip Island.

“I knew it would be harder than Qatar but I didn’t expect it to be as tough as this.

“My physical condition is perfect, maybe better than all the other riders but at the moment I am too nervous and too tense on the bike.

“You have to be relaxed in Supersport but it is even more important on a Superbike.”
MCN: Have you experienced problems with fatigue before?

Kenan Sofuoglu: “In 2006 in Supersport I had the same problem because I couldn’t relax and then in 2007 when I knew the bike, tracks and championship it was much easier and I won.

“Everyone I am racing with has so much more experience than me – I looked at this in Phillip Island and the least experienced was (Karl) Muggeridge and he has three years on a Superbike.”
MCN: How did you prepare for the race?

Kenan Sofuoglu: “Before first practice I looked at the lap on the computer from James (Toseland) last year and I immediately respected what he did.

“He’s on a Superbike and many times he was touching full gas which is difficult to do on a Supersport bike and he’s doing it on a Superbike.”
MCN: You finished 14th and 11th in the two races, but ran as high up as fifth, how does that make you feel?

Kenan Sofuoglu: “It gives me a lot of encouragement for the future because if I can be up there in my second meeting then for sure in the future I will be very strong.

“I know how I can ride a bike, but at the moment I am very afraid to really use the brakes or open the gas.”
MCN: Aside from how physical it is what are the other big differences?

Kenan Sofuoglu: “With a Superbike you have a lot of power so at the end of a race you must be very smooth because the performance of the tyre is dropping a lot.

“In Supersport when the tyres go off you don’t have so much power so it’s not such a big problem.

“At the moment I am too aggressive at the end of a race and I am having big slides one after another.

“At the moment I do not know what I’m doing so at the next test I will spend a lot of time lapping on a used tyre to try and understand.”
MCN: How do you feel the season has gone so far?

Kenan Sofuoglu: “I’ve done four races now, had no crashes and been in the points every time, which is not so easy in WSB anymore.

“At the moment I am not happy but if I think about my future then I am satisfied.”