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Sofuoglu Wins Race Number Seven of Championship Season

World Supersport Championships 2007 - Round 12 VALLELUNGA – Italy

Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) was the eventual winner of a shortened Supersport race at Vallelunga, called to a halt on lap 17 because of an oil spill that claimed several riders before the race was stopped. Due to the count back of laps in these situations, it was Sofuoglu, not his fellow Honda rider and long-time front-runner Craig Jones (Honda CBR600RR) who was declared the winner at the new-to-SBK circuit near Rome. The 4.110km track was a stiff test for all, with very fast and very slow sections demanding a well-balanced machine set-up. In race conditions Vallelunga proved to be a playground for Honda riders, and in third place Spanish privateer Joan Lascorz (Honda CBR600RR) scored his first podium in the 600cc division, giving Honda a clean sweep of podium places.

Sebastien Charpentier (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) once more dropped through the field from a potential podium finish, scoring ninth, while the still-injured Katsuaki Fujiwara (Althea Honda Team CBR600RR) was a gritty tenth. His team-mate Lorenzo Alfonsi (Althea Honda Team CBR600RR) was one of the riders unfortunate to find the oil spill at the fast entrance to the Curva Cimini rights before the oil flags came out, and he was not classified with a finish.

Qualifying in Italy had been headed up by three Honda riders, with Jones on pole, from Sofuoglu from Charpentier. Alfonsi was 11th and Fujiwara worked hard to get to a final tenth place in the race, from a 14th place on the grid.

In the championship, Sofuoglu leads second place rider Fabien Foret by a vast 123 points, with Fujiwara on 93, and still in with a chance of finishing third - if he can make up 20 points on Broc Parkes at the final round of the year. Charpentier is tenth overall, with 51 points, while Alfonsi is now 14th in the standings, on an unchanged 45 points. In the Manufacturers’ Championship Honda has a 63 points lead, having already secured the silverware earlier in the season.

Sofuoglu, who won the championship with three races to spare, was desperate to win at this race and he got his wish in the first ever visit of World Supersport to the Vallelunga track. He leaves with a new lap record for the 4.110km circuit, 1’40.231, set on lap six. His seventh win of the year equals the best-ever record of victories in one season, set in 2004 by former Honda Ten Kate rider, Karl Muggeridge.

“Craig had a great start and I had to work hard to close him down,” said Sofuoglu, “I made a mistake early on and then I sat behind him for a while in second position and then we had a good fight before the flag came out. I was pretty lucky because if the red flag had come out one lap later Jones would have had the win. I think the Honda works very well at Vallelunga, and my team made the bike great today. I really wanted to win another race at least in Supersport, after winning the title, and I want to try and get another one next weekend at Magny-Cours.”

Charpentier’s weekend ended in disappointment despite his front row qualifying pace, leaving him once more unsure why his early lap speed could not be maintained over race distance.

“Same story as previous races, I’m afraid,” said Charpentier. “No grip after a while and I don’t know why. Then, with maximum lean angle, I experience a lot of chatter. It will be important to make a good race in the final round at Magny-Cours next week.”

Fujiwara rode the race with a left foot still injured from a crash in the previous Lausitz race, and paid the price in pain and overall fatigue, because his normal fitness regime had been affected in the run up to Vallelunga.

“It felt like the race was 40 laps,” said Fujiwara. “In the high speed corners things were not so bad, I could push there, but this track has an incredibly tight infield, and you have to hold on a lot because you have to hang off very far to get round. That was very difficult with my injured foot, and all my muscles hurt. It was very hard today, but it was important to finish in the points and I will never, never give up this year.”

Alfonsi was unhappy at losing the chance to score points at his home round, especially as he had been pushing in the race, and was up to 11th at one stage.

“There was oil down but no flag,” said Alfonsi, “so I fell at the entrance to the Curva Cimini. I am OK, not injured in the crash but very beaten up. I made up some places but I think there was a problem with the air pressure in the rear tyre, as I was spinning a lot before the crash anyway.”

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