Kenan Sofuoglu is a real superstar in Turkey and it could not be otherwise, because so far he has won five titles in World Supersport Championship and even 40 races whose 2 in Superstock 1000 and 38 in the WorldSBK “middle class”. But now “KNN #54” is more than 30 years old and the time has already come to look for the rider (or maybe riders) who will represent his country in international motorcycling when he retires.
Who is doing it? Kenan himself! For some years the multiple world champion has been following some young compatriots and helping them growing and debuting in the main motorcycling championships, a bit like other champions such as Valentino Rossi and, from this year, Max Biaggi. The most representative rider of Sofuoglu’s “Academy” is with no doubt Toprak Razgatlioglu, rider born in 1996 who managed to win European Superstock 600 in 2015 and was 5th in his first season in Superstock 1000 last year with also two podium finishes got in the last two races. But, in addition to him, another interesting youngster is standing out: Harun Çabuk.
Çabuk was born in 1997 in Denizli, about 600 kms far from Istanbul, and in 2012 he was European Supermoto Junior Champion in 85cc class. In 2015, while Razgatlioglu prevailed over his opponents in Superstock 600 and his “teacher” Kenan got closer and closer to his fourth title in World Supersport, Harun cut his teeth in European Junior Cup, where he got five top-10 finishes and ranked 10th in final standings after racing on eight circuits he had never seen before. 2016 had two sides: on one hand Çabuk had two DNFs and one DNS for injury and saw the chequered flag in just five out of eight races, but on the other hand he was once fourth, once fifth and THREE TIMES WINNER (in Aragon, Lausitzring and Jerez) and these results allowed him to finish the season in 3rd place.
This year the 20-year-old Turk will participate in World Supersport 300 Championship, where he will ride a Kawasaki lined up by Puccetti Racing and benefit from his peculiarities, which remind Sofuoglu: much aggressivity, no fear during the bagarre and lots of talent. If Kenan and Manuel Puccetti will manage to correct his few flaws (in particular his tendency to make mistakes), Çabuk will surely have the chance to become part of history as first SSP300 Champion ever.
I want to finish this article by wishing Kenan Sofuoglu the speediest recovery. I hope he will recover soon from the injury suffered while he was training (broken right wrist).
Çabuk in action: Philippe Damiens
Podiums: Collage made by Harun with photos taken by Václav Duska Jr.