Multiple WorldSSP Champion Kenan Sofuoglu got his 2017 title challenge off to a start at Assen’s WorldSBK round today, taking a dominant lights-to-flag victory to claim 25 points and becomes the fourth different winner in four races.
Sofuoglu had been almost untouchable throughout the weekend and started from pole. First into Haarbocht on the opening lap, the Puccetti Kawasaki man slowly pulled a gap on the pack behind and it grew to 3.5s before Sofuoglu knocked it off with two laps to go and cruised to a 2.5s win.
The podium spots were where the action was. Championship leader Lucas Mathias, Jules Cluzel, PJ Jacobsen, Sheridan Morais, Federico Caricasulo and Michael Canducci were all in the mix. Mathias and Cluzel ended up fighting it out for second and third but the Yamaha man almost threw it away with a mistake at Strubben with three left to go.
Mathias ran wide and allowed Cluzel and Caricasulo through but was soon back into third which set up a fight with MV Agusta’s Cluzel. Mathias must have thought he had it in the can on the exit of the final chicane as his celebratory stand-up wheelie allowed Cluzel to close in and only lose out by 0.005s.
Jacobsen bagged fourth place after finding a way past Morais with Caricasulo in sixth. Canducci faded in the final laps to end in seventh with Luke Stapleford eighth. Dutchman Rob Hartog claimed tenth, one in front of Christian Gamarino while Kyle Smith took 11th.
Kyle Ryde took a gamble with the SC2 front tyre, which he said caused him problems in the cold morning warm-up, but after a bright start where he was up to fourth, the Puccetti Kawasaki man slipped back to 12th. Anthony West came through from the back of the pack to finish in 14th, one ahead of Hannes Soomer, with Roby Rolfo completing the points scorers. Gino Rea was 17th with Stefan Hill retiring early doors.