India, El Dorado or mirage for the World Superbike ?
The Mahi Kawasaki team, which had big ambitions when it landed in the World Supersport in mid-2012, has just released its Sofuoglu and Foret riders. After the cancellation of the Indian event last year, it is a second disappointment for the WSBK.
At the end of 2012, the union between the second most populous country in the world (more than 1.25 billion inhabitants according to) and the second motorcycle speed world championship seemed to have a bright future. But since then, India and the WSBK have had two big disappointments…
The first took place a year ago: initially postponed, the Indian World Superbike event – the very first international "road" motorcycle racing competition! – had to be canceled due to obscure operational difficulties (read).
However, the Indian organizers and the Indian and international motorcycling federations made sure to do everything in their power to ensure that the Buddh Circuit hosts a World Superbike round in the near future, in 2015, at the earliest..
A new setback nevertheless darkens the horizon: the first and only Indian team engaged in World Superbike – – will not end the 2014 season! A particularly concise press release from Kawasaki has just announced that Kenan Sofuoglu is changing teams…
"Three-time FIM Supersport World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu will race in a Ninja ZX-6R with San Carlo Puccetti Racing team next week in Jerez after an amicable split with Mahi Racing Team India, officially indicates the manufacturer.
Information taken from those responsible for the competition at Kawasaki Europe, Kenan could in fact have left the Mahi team on better terms … Perhaps he should have found refuge with the Italians earlier, the lack of results of the three-time Turkish champion this year (three podiums including one victory) being surprising to say the least.
"At the origin of this team is a group of Indian investors who wanted to get into motorcycles, communicate through it, participate in the Superbike world championship … there were even pilot school projects.", reminds us of our interlocutor (read).
"Participation in this Mahi project (nickname of cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni, NDLR) which is a very big name there, helped to attract more investors … Unfortunately, a few months later, Mahi had problems with the justice system (his name jumped out of the fairings from the second test 2014, Editor’s note) and the team found itself much shorter in budget than expected".
After not far from a fourth coronation in 2013, Sofuoglu had to make up for it this season, while his teammate Foret rode a ZX-10R in Superbike with the aim of winning in the Evo category. But money – the sinews of war! – missing, the results also declined.
Unscrupulous managers, inexperienced mechanics, poorly paid staff or not paid at all (!), Sloppy preparation machines – no shifter on Fabien’s Ninja! – and non-existent development: the grievances towards the Mahi team are numerous.
The cancellation of the round in India undoubtedly has its share of responsibility in this fiasco: "the team counted a lot on this race: given the population and the consequent media exposure, it would have immediately obtained a good return on investment". Without this home event, would the championship have lost all interest for the Indians? Apparently yes.
"A priori, Fabien will not be in Jerez to race in Evo. He will focus on the Endurance program", announced the Greens to Site. Third in WSSP last year – all the same! – Fabien should even play the entire World Endurance Championship within the SRC team..
"This season was perhaps the year too many, even if it was looking good: a new bike, a small challenge in terms of development of the Evo model and supposedly good material conditions.", testifies our contact at Kawa ‘.
"But Fabien is delighted to retrain in Endurance and to continue his career in an official team with this time really good conditions locked by Kawasaki.". Sofuoglu for his part, could remain in World Supersport within the Puccetti team.
"The optic for Kawasaki is to keep Kenan in this team to repeat a season in Supersport", tells us our contact."He is in talks with Ten Kate, has several options, but if he manages to win two races before the end of the season, he should stay". To follow, stay tuned !
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