As Honda wins five-in-row
Another superb 1-2 team performance by Sébastien Charpentier (Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) and Kenan Sofuoglu (Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) delivered the 2005 champion a second consecutive title in the World Supersport division, after a
dramatic afternoon in Charpentier's home country.
Charpentier and Sofuoglu dominated the race, as they had qualifying (with Charpentier on pole and Sofuoglu second) but in a safe fifth place on the second row of the grid, Kevin Curtain (Yamaha) was on course to win the title.
Any finish eighth or higher would have given Curtain the title, but he fell at post 12 on lap eight, and was thus out of the race. Charpentier then had to finish second or better to overturn Curtain's 18-point pre-race lead and in winning the delayed 22-lap event now enjoys a final points advantage of 194 to Curtain's 187. Sofuoglu's selflessness gave him third overall, as he scored his seventh podium of the season, in second.
Charpentier has scored eight podiums this season; six wins, and has now made history by being the first rider to make back-to-back championship wins in World Supersport. In doing so he gave Honda and his Ten Kate team their fifth back-to-back Rider's Championships, to add to Honda's Manufacturers' trophy, earned at Imola. Sofuoglu finishes his first full season in WSS racing with seven podiums and two wins.
Katsuaki Fujiwara (Team Megabike Honda CBR600RR) battled hard, after a qualifying performance of sixth, for seventh in the 22-lap race, while Yoann Tiberio (Team Megabike Honda CBR600RR) was tenth, recovering from a disastrous 20th in qualifying. Tiberio finishes his season seventh overall on 80 points, with Fujiwara 13th, on 39.
Charpentier was simultaneously exhausted and elated by his championship success, having recovered from some seemingly impossible situations - and a broken pelvis during a Brno test session in June. "When I saw number 11 was out I was not completely sure, because I know Kevin very well and he is a good rider," said Charpentier, emotional after his title win on home soil. "Yamaha worked very hard this year and sometimes Curtain and Broc Parkes made it very hard for me. Also after my crash in Brno, it became very difficult. It was not easy to keep my body at 100%."
"I think my Winston Ten Kate Honda team is very strong and they have been perfect," he added. "They made a good way for me, and my team-mate made some very good results in the last few races. For me this is a fantastic day because there have been some very difficult moments this year - after the Brno injury and the German race at Lausitz. Thank you so much to Honda, because they showed that the CBR600RR has a big possibility to win."
Sofuoglu was the perfect team-mate once more, and achieved his personal goal of third overall. "I knew we had to work together in the race and so when Sébastien came through I did not try to re-pass him," said Sofuoglu. "When I learned that Curtain was out I realised that I could push again and go for the win, and Sébastien would still be champion, - but it was a risk, and I still had Parkes behind. I want to be really strong next year and I will give everything to win."
Fujiwara was pugilistic in the final round and only just missed out on a better finish at the end, due to a piece of unusual bad luck. "During the last lap I touched with Harms and I broke my clutch lever, so I couldn't attack him again," said Fujiwara. "I started not so well and some riders passed me at the first corner. During the first lap I had some problem with the new tyre but after that I pushed hard and I recovered more positions - thanks to the help of the circuit design I had more chance to pass. I feel only a little pain on my hand, so that's a good sign for the future."
Tiberio was caught out by the changeable weather in qualifying but recovered well in the race. "This result is important for the championship because I took more points and I ended up in seventh position," said Tiberio. "I started without clear ideas about the set-up because of the rain on Saturday, but, after the first lap, I pushed hard and I recovered more positions. During the last laps my tyre was finished and I could not attack for eighth position. I'm happy, I want to thank the team for the positive season. I won a race and it was a fantastic experience."
Press Release HRC