Five-time World Supersport Champion Kenan Sofuoglu has officially announced that he will hang up his helmet following a series of serious crashes, but only after surprising with a return to the race track for a final hurrah at Imola this weekend.
MCN exclusively revealed during the Thai race weekend in March that Sofuoglu was contemplating retirement following, not just a heavy crash at Magny-Cours last year which brought a major hip injury, but a further massive accident during practice at Phillip Island at the start of this season which caused further complications.
The Turkish superstar, now celebrating his 20th year as a professional rider, had hoped to announce the retirement last time out at Assen but was forced to change plans as he was required to concur the matter with his Puccetti team. The official communique finally came from the Italian outfit on Monday; the 33-year-old confirms that his retirement comes following long conversations with the Turkish President who is an acquaintance and long-time supporter of the rider.
“Just as the President wishes, I am going to retire from racing this weekend,” Sofuoglu states. “I have had a few injuries which made my family and the President very afraid. We have decided to retire from racing earlier than expected. I can’t say I am sad because I have a few Turkish racers who I have trained to fly the flag. 20 years ago I started my career with the goal of winning the World Championship. We have won the title five times and for that I am very grateful. Many people have supported me to win these titles and I want to thank them all.”
Sofuoglu won his five World Supersport titles in 2007, 2010, 2012, 2015 and 2016. He holds every record in the book: 43 race wins, 85 podium finishes, 30 fastest race laps and 34 pole positions. He celebrated his 100th front row start in Australia earlier this year. Although he insists he is not targeting victory at Imola, the Turk has won at the Italian circuit for the last three years and in typical Sofuoglu fashion will no doubt be looking to go out with a bang in Round 5 of the season this weekend.
A full and exclusive feature on the fascinating life and career of Kenan Sofuoglu, including interviews with some of his fiercest rivals, will follow in the Wednesday 23rd May edition of MCN.