Kenan Sofuoglu's World Supersport title defense is off to a rough start. The Kawasaki rider has been forced to withdraw from the first two rounds of the 2017 season to have surgery to fix a hand injury he suffered in a training crash.
Sofuoglu injured his right hand in a fall riding a Supermoto bike, dislocating his thumb, breaking bones and damaging tendons. After surgery to try to pin the broken bones, Sofuoglu attempted to test at Phillip Island, with a view to making it through the first round of the series. The pain proved to be unbearable, however, the Turkish rider only managing a couple of laps before having to return to the pits.
Sofuoglu will now return home to have surgery on his hand, to reattach the damaged tendons. The reigning champion will return to action at the third round of the season at the Motorland Aragon circuit at the end of March.
Sofuoglu's absence will offer a golden opportunity to other riders to seize control of the championship. At Kawasaki, the responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of Sofuoglu's teammate, Kyle Ryde. Former runner up Jules Cluzel will see his opportunity, racing a Honda this year, while PJ Jacobsen, the fastest man on Tuesday, will also see a chance. Lucas Mahias, Gino Rea, and Niki Tuuli are also hotly fancied.
Below is the press release from Kawasaki announcing Sofuoglu's withdrawal
Sofuoglu Out Of First Two Rounds As Ryde Continues Progress