Thanks to Charpentier and Sofuoglu 1-2 at Imola
A perfect 1-2 team performance in qualifying for Sébastien Charpentier (Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) and Kenan Sofuoglu (Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) was mirrored in triumphant style in the 21-lap Imola race, with Charpentier
finishing first and Sofuoglu second. Their points helped Honda win the Supersport Manufacturers' Trophy for the fourth year in succession, with one race still to run.
The Winston Ten Kate Honda team-mates' joint efforts took them almost ten seconds clear of championship leader Kevin Curtain, who was third at Imola. Charpentier now enters the final round at Magny-Cours next weekend needing to make up an 18-point deficit to retain his champion status, having made great inroads into the 27- point disadvantage he suffered from before the Imola weekend.
A return to form for Katsuaki Fujiwara (Team Megabike Honda CBR600RR) saw him as high as third in the early order, mimicking his practice performance, but slowly dropping down to finish eighth, as his wrist injury slowed his progress. His team-mate, Yoann Tiberio (Team Megabike Honda CBR600RR) finished ninth, after once more experiencing problems with set-up and ultimate traction.
Charpentier knows that Imola was an important step in his personal recuperation and championship challenge, and he is fully aware of the possibilities he has in front of his home fans next weekend.
"I am happy, because after the German race it was not easy for me in my head," said Charpentier, clearly back his best after a tough mid-season, plagued by injuries.
"Now, for sure, the victory was perfect for me, and my team, and Honda. This was very important for the championship, because the last race is in Magny-Cours, in France, and I hope to win again. The package of our bike and the choice of tyres were good today and my team-mate was very good. After my crash in Brno it was not easy, even if my hand was not completely perfect today, because I hurt it in Germany. The start was not ideal for me, but I closed the gap step-by-step. Robbin Harms crashed in front of me and it would have been easy to hit him or make a mistake. I have to say thanks to everyone for the good weekend we have enjoyed here. Sometimes it is not so easy, like after Germany, but thanks to everyone, the team and my family, for the good support."
Sofuoglu's fantastic start made the Imola event a straightforward one for him, and his personal aim of taking third in the championship is now right on schedule, as he has 137 points, compared to Curtain on 187, Charpentier on 169 and fourth place rider, Broc Parkes, on 129.
"Of course I am really happy with this race, and with Sébastien and I finishing first and second," said Sofuoglu. "Sébastien was trying for the championship so I did not really try too hard - but Sébastien was already riding really fast anyway. We had good bikes and good set-up. I hope in Magny-Cours we can win the championship and I can be on the podium too. We will keep working hard and looking to next week."
Fujiwara was disappointed to finish so low down after such a good start, but knew he had taken the best result he could. He now sits 12th in the championship, on 30 points.
"My wrist injury was better than before but there was still pain from my scaphoid," said Fujiwara. "I was at least happier with my riding in the early laps and it was important that I qualified third to make a good start."
Yoann Tiberio's Imola is not one to be remembered fondly by the young Frenchman, especially after qualifying only 11th. He is seventh overall as he approaches his home race in Magny-Cours, with a total of 74 points.
"It was tough today and very difficult for the tyres," said Tiberio. "I rode at my maximum all the race but it was difficult to find a good setting all weekend and that made it hard in the race."
Press Release HRC