Reigning champion Kenan Sofuoglu piloted his Kawasaki Puccetti Racing ZX-6R to pole position for tomorrow’s opening round of the 2016 World SuperSport Championship at the scenic Phillip Island Circuit. The Turkish rider will be joined on the front row of the grid by PJ Jacobsen (Honda CBR600RR) and Kawasaki team mate Randy Krummenacher.
Today’s qualifying session was the first time that the SuperPole format, originally developed for the SuperBike category, was used to determine the SuperSport grid. The two-part qualifying sees the riders who were ranked from 11th to last place in the previous qualifying sessions going out in SuperPole 1 to fight it out for the two slots that join the top ten riders in SuperPole 2 where the top four rows of the grid are decided.
Christiaan Gamarino (Team GoEleven Kawasaki ZX-6R) and Frederico Caricasulo (Bardahl Evan Bros. Honda Racing CBR600RR) emerged at the top of the SuperPole 1 standings and went on to join the top ten in SuperPole 2. Australian wild card entry Anthony West (Tribeca racing Yamaha YZF R6) just missed the cut and will start his home race from 13th on the grid.
In SuperPole 2 Sofuoglu was half a second quicker than his rivals around the 4.445 km circuit but behind him things were far closer, the next five riders being separated by just 0.46 seconds. Krummenacher was just 0.02 seconds slower than Jacobsen.
Caricasulo didn’t let the extra work he had to do in SuperPole 1 worry him, setting a time that saw him head the second row of the grid ahead of Lorenzo Zanetti (MV Augusta Reparto Corse F3 675) and Alex Badolini (Race Department ATK#25 MV Augusta F3 675).
Jules Cluzel (MV Augusta Reparto Corse F3 675), who missed the latter part of last season after a crash in Jerez, had to settle for eighth between Gamarino and Kyle Ryde (Ranieri Med – SC Racing Yamaha YZF R6) after crashing out part way through the session.
The fourth row is filled by Kyle Smith (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda CBR600RR), Nicolas Terol (Schmidt Racing MV Augusta F3 675) and Kevin Wahr (Gelmar Balloons – Team Lorini Honda CBR600RR).
Speaking after SuperPole Sofuoglu said, “It is nice to have taken the first SuperPole in SuperSport history. It was good today because the track was very clean and the grip was good. We did some very good work in these two days of testing and honestly we did not use all our best until today. The team did a very good job. But still there is a possibility that we can go even faster because we keep pushing the bike to the limit and I am not taking risks with my riding. I could see I was ‘P1’ and I tried to stay there. Hopefully tomorrow we can go for 25 points – the first win of the season would be very nice.”
PJ Jacobsen was happy with his performance. “Today was a really good day for us. After yesterday’s crash we managed to get up to speed and, with some good signs this morning, we knew we could have put together a good lap in the Superpole. We got the suspension working good and the bike feels really well, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow and I think the big factor will be managing the tyres well and staying with the leading group in the early stages.”