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Kawasaki Puccetti Racing rider Randy Krummenacher had led the WorldSSP Championship since the Swiss rookie crossed the line to take his first victory in the class, in Round 1 at Phillip Island. The race win on his first outing and a DNF for his teammate after a tyre issue took the pressure off a little in the first few Rounds of his first season, as all the other expected title favourites had more difficult weekends.

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Having ridden in the Moto2 World Championship before moving to WorldSSP, it would have been easy to say that Krummenacher found the immediate success because of how well he knew Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit, but the truth is that the rookie has been a frontrunner in every single Race so far this season, including tracks like Buriram and Imola that were previously unknown to him. The lead has now been ceded to teammate Sofuoglu, however, as an impressive run of form has seen the reigning Champion able to overtake his teammate in the standings when Krummenacher suffered a mechanical problem in Italy. The pressure, then, is back on, and how much more the rookie can find to take the fight to his experienced teammate is sure to set up some unforgettable clashes.

Two other key figures on the WorldSSP grid knew that pressure before Imola, and arrived to the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari needing a good weekend to get them back on track. Jules Cluzel, after a hard time in Assen in the rain and slipping down the Championship standings, put in a stunning lap in the final minutes of qualifying to take pole position at the Italian track despite Sofuoglu having dominated the pace in practice. After a more complicated Race, the MV Agusta rider got back on the pace again and hunted down the reigning Champion to come P2; moving back up into the top three in the title table.

Honda rider PJ Jacobsen suffered a difficult two previous Rounds before arriving in Italy, and the American bounced back well in Imola with a solid performance to round out the podium. After emerging as a true title contender in 2015, Jacobsen has shown he has the pace once again this year. In addition, Sepang International Circuit is where the Honda rider took his first win and really began to gather momentum last season, and the American looks forward to returning to the track, especially off the back of a podium finish on a track not traditionally having proved one of his strongest.

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Zulfahmi Khairuddin is another face on the grid pushing for a great result in Sepang. The Malaysian rider is settling into WorldSSP well and his home circuit has given the Orelac Racing Verdnatura rider great memories and past glory. In the Moto3 World Championship in 2012, Sepang staged Fahmi’s first pole position and in the race the local hero came home in P2. Khairuddin is sure to feel the extra push of home motivation to help him challenge for the top once again.

To beat Kenan Sofuoglu in World Supersport is a great challenge, particularly when the Turk has found his trademark incredible pace and consistency once again since Round 1. However, there are pretenders to the crown who have showed their readiness to take the fight to the reigning Champion, and the stunning Sepang International Circuit is ready for the curtain to drop once again, from the 13th to 15th May.

Tony Carter

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