“Güle güle efsane”, Kenan Sofuoglu

Güle güle efsane” means, in Turkish, “Goodbye, legend“. If we look at how social media users reacted to Kenan’s retirement, what we see is the jubilee of a national hero, as if a rider could reicarnate a whole country. We think it had already happened with few people in general, but we had never seen that in motorcycle racing.

FIVE TIMES CHAMPION – His great achievements are clear to everybody, but what strikes is the way a nation identifies itself in a person. Kenan is a well-rounded champion, a cool one, a person who defated the scepticism surrounding his debut. Imola delivered him a great tribute, as if he was an Ottoman sultan, and it included even a giant Turkish flag. His decision – personal, so absolutely right  – not to race after the warm-up lap surprised everybody. «I went on the starting grid, in first row, and there I decided to go immediately to the pits.» – said Kenan – «I think it was the best decision for me. To be honest, in the morning I didn’t know what to do yet. I decided not to race just few minutes before the start». There’s something rhetorical in this: Imola and World Superbike are tightly connected, so it was the best idea to announce his retirement right there.

TRIBUTE – Just in front of the podium stage, a big crowd of supporters was waiting for Kenan and the Turk addressed to them simple, real words, representing him perfectly as a rider. «I came here for the show» – admitted Sofuoglu – «and not to win. In that moment, for me, the show was over». He also said that, on Mother’s Day, he had promised to his one that he would have stopped racing. This is how Kenan said goodbye to his fans. An emotional farewell, for a champion who made the history of World Supersport. A humble rider who decided to retire after another injury, without saying too many words. The paddock is used to totally different behaviours, so it was surprising to hear him saying: «Toprak Razgatliouglu is more talented than me». These words sound like an investiture and they’re in contrast with his nickname: “The Sultan”.

RELIGION – For the way he often thanks Allah during his interviews, you’d rather call him “Godly Kenan”. The five times World Supersport Champion starts a new chapter of his life and he revealed his new goal to the Turkish newspaper “AA”: «I want to raise young Turkish talents. My goal is to create a new generation of champions to represent Turkey in motorsport». “The Sultan” is tightli connected with his home country, whose he feels like a special ambassador. Well, Turkey is repaying him: a movie about his life will be out very soon and Kenan invited Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to watch it with him, before everybody else. The President was very enthusiastic about it and he said that he’s «looking forward for when it will be available in the cinemas». It’s clear: Kenan is a her in his country and he doesn’t care of what people may think of his ideas.

IDOL – Turkish media paint him as a champion who took the values of his country to the top and maybe this is the reason why Kenan’s story is so close to the one of Turkey; but it looks like he doesn’t want to work with the local motorcycling federation or have a “government” role. He didn’t decide to retire at Imola by chance. Why? Because Imola is World Superbike itself…

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www.bikeandrace.com is the worldwide web platform of italian website www.corsedimoto.com.

Editor in chief: Paolo Gozzi, italian journalist engaged in motorcycling from early ’80.

Strategies and management: Gianluca Montiron, former MotoGP team principal of JiR.