World Supersport was a sixteen lap race with thirty four starters, but the world was only looking at two of them: A championship was very much on the line.
The Turkish fans came to watch Kenan Sofuoglu battle with Sam Lowes and they were not left wanting. As Sofuoglu took the lead from pole position, Sam Lowes made it known he was not intent on settling for second place and a mere 49 point lead in the championship. Sofuoglu, on the first lap, looked behind to see it was Lowes in second place and let him past, only to pass him on the fast back straight, almost as a gesture of defiance.
On the second lap, Sofuoglu led across the line to the cheers of the Istanbul crowd, but by turn seven, Lowes took the lead and set off to put in a punishing pace, setting the lap record for several consecutive laps. This didn’t dissuade Kenan Sofuoglu who is known as being a strong finisher.
Lap after lap, Lowes eked the gap out until it was over a second over his rival, but then, true to form, Kenan Sofuoglu started reeling in the championship leader.
Michael Van Der Mark grabbed third place early on and, while he was unable to match the pace of Lowes and Sofuoglu, managed the gap behind him and avoided the six-bike scrap for fourth place that would continue to the flag, involving a Fabien Foret crash and several unkind overtakes.
By the twelfth lap, Kenan Sofuoglu had closed the gap to Sam Lowes to 0.6 of a second and looked like he had the pace to pass him and, on the next lap, took the lead on the brakes at the end of the back straight. Coming out of the last corner, Lowes had a slow line in that gave him drive out to run alongside Sofuoglu at the line and retain the inside line at the first turn to retake the lead, but Sofuoglu reposed him a few turns later.
Sam Lowes, who was able to take the kink in the back straight flat out, passed Kenan Sofuoglu inside the 240kmh corner in an exceedingly brave move, but Sofuoglu was again able to retake the lead at the end of the lap.
On the penultimate lap, Sofuoglu settled into a rhythm with Lowes behind him, not making an attempt at a pass, deciding that it would be sorted out on he last lap. If Lowes won, he’d be crowned world champion immediately, whereas if Sofuoglu won, Lowes would need just one point in either of the remaining two rounds but, crucially, he would not take the crown in front of Sofuoglu’s fans.
On the last lap, the lead was swapped several times, as each rider made the most of their bikes’ advantages, neither willing to settle for second. Neither rider made a mistake and, as Lowes tried to pass Sofuoglu at the end of the straight, it was clear it would take a miracle for Lowes to win the race. The miracle was hunted coming out of the last corner where he once again took a wider line and attempted to pass the Turkish superstar at the line.
Kenan Sofuoglu crossed the line four hundredths of a second ahead of Sam Lowes alongside him, and pushed the title fight to another round. As the crowd cheered their hero and his victory, the two duelists hugged on the warm down lap, both content that they had neither asked for, nor given, any quarter.
Michael Van Der Mark took third place clear of the pack led by Lorenzo Zanetti, but the crowd didn’t notice. They had their day.
Istanbul Park - FIM Supersport World Championship - Race
1. Kenan Sofuoglu (MAHI Racing Team India) Kawasaki ZX-6R 31'59.707
2. Sam Lowes (Yakhnich Motorsport) Yamaha YZF R6 31'59.747
3. Michael Vd Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport) Honda CBR600RR 32'08.781
4. Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport) Honda CBR600RR 32'11.694
5. Roberto Rolfo (ParkinGo MV Agusta Corse) MV Agusta F3 675 32'12.403
6. Roberto Tamburini (Team Lorini) Honda CBR600RR 32'12.643
7. Kev Coghlan (Kawasaki DMC-Lorenzini Team) Kawasaki ZX-6R 32'13.709
8. David Salom (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres) Kawasaki ZX-6R 32'14.562
9. Jack Kennedy (Rivamoto) Honda CBR600RR 32'19.659
10. Ronan Quarmby (Prorace) Honda CBR600RR 32'20.136
11. Luca Scassa (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres) Kawasaki ZX-6R 32'23.249
12. Alex Baldolini (Suriano Racing Team) Suzuki GSX-R600 32'25.099
13. Raffaele De Rosa (Team Lorini) Honda CBR600RR 32'28.437
14. Massimo Roccoli (Team Pata by Martini) Yamaha YZF R6 32'28.758
15. Vladimir Leonov (Yakhnich Motorsport) Yamaha YZF R6 32'28.825
16. Fabio Menghi (VFT Racing) Yamaha YZF R6 32'29.788
17. Mathew Scholtz (Suriano Racing Team) Suzuki GSX-R600 32'32.850
18. Danny Webb (PTR Honda) Honda CBR600RR 32'33.093
19. Florian Marino (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres) Kawasaki ZX-6R 32'42.571
20. Luca Marconi (PTR Honda) Honda CBR600RR 32'42.599
21. Nacho Calero Perez (Honda PTR) Honda CBR600RR 33'06.180
22. Alex Schacht (Racing Team Toth) Honda CBR600RR 33'06.543
23. Imre Toth (Racing Team Toth) Honda CBR600RR 33'07.388
24. David McFadden (Team Honda PTR) Honda CBR600RR 33'16.427
25. Alexey Ivanov (Kawasaki DMC-Lorenzini Team) Kawasaki ZX-6R 33'24.261
26. Theodosios Sinioris (Sinioris Racing Team) Honda CBR600RR 33'24.603
27. Baris Tok (GoPro BT Racing Team) Yamaha YZF R6 34'06.824
RT. Christian Iddon (ParkinGo MV Agusta Corse) MV Agusta F3 675 28'07.753
RT. Fabien Foret (MAHI Racing Team India) Kawasaki ZX-6R 28'49.172
RT. Sheridan Morais (Team Goeleven) Kawasaki ZX-6R 18'25.297
RT. Eduard Blokhin (Rivamoto) Honda CBR600RR 13'11.201
RT. Balazs Nemeth (Complus SMS Racing) Honda CBR600RR 23'04.529
RT. Damian Cudlin (Team Honda PTR) Honda CBR600RR 6'40.997
RT. Cagri Coskun (Pacific Racing Team) Honda CBR600RR 7'52.407