Anthony West has had an interesting year. After starting 2007 racing the 250cc World Championship and then moving over to the World Supersport Championship, West got the call to step up to a factory Kawasaki on the MotoGP circuit. His first race was a rainy Donington, where West managed to finish 11th, a spot ahead of Spaniard Toni Elias. We caught up with Anthony to talk about his new gig just after he qualified for the Assen TT, where heíd finish ninth on a dry track.
RRX: Congratulations on finally making it to MotoGP, Anthony!
Anthony West: Yeah, thanks.
It certainly didnít come about the typical way.
No, it was a bit strange, the way it came about. Itís amazing how things can change so quickly.
Was it difficult to get out of your arrangement with the World Supersport Yamaha team you were with?
No, not so difficult. I had to pay them a bit of money, but they were really supportive. They wanted to keep me because Iíd had good results, so they wanted me to finish the rest of the year with them, but they understood why I wanted to come here: itís the top class. All the guys there were okay about it. They actually understood why I wanted to leave and race here.
Were you ever worried that it wasnít going to work out?
Yeah, I thought Iíd never ride here. Then I thought I was going to lose it all with all of these contracts and everything, but everything worked out. Yamaha were really good, and Iím lucky to be here.
I know itís been a short season for you, but what are your impressions of the series so far?
Itís different. Itís tough. Iím just trying to learn the bike as quick as I can, and itís difficult because these guys have been on them for half the season, and most of them have been in MotoGP for many years. Iím trying to do their times within a couple of races, and itís hard work.
You were thrown in the deep end at Donington and you had a pretty good showing, and you did well in qualifying today [for the Assen TT] as well.
In rainy conditions, I feel quite strong, even though today I had some small problems. But I know we can fix this; we still have a lot of things to work on on the bike.
It seems to be the year of the Australians so far.
Yeah, not too bad!
Kawasaki was never taken very seriously in the past by many people, but now the 800 seems to be doing pretty well. What are your impressions of that bike so far?
Yeah, I remember when they first came, everyone was sort of laughing a little bit, but for sure the bike is really strong now. I think itís going to be a really good bike, and itís possible to win races on it now. I just need more time to get used to it, but the guys theyíve got working there are really good, they know what theyíre doing, and theyíre just improving the bike each time out, I think. As far as speed goes, there are no worries. The bike has a fast top speed.
I know youíve ridden 500cc two-stroke GP bikes before. How does this bike compare?
Itís quite similar, but when you open the gas, this thing is a bit more predictable and more user-friendly. The old two-strokes, as soon as you touched the throttle you werenít sure if you were going to stay on it, or if it was going to throw you up in the air, because the power just came on so strong on two-strokes. These are just so much easier to ride, but they do feel similar with the way they turn and everything.
So whatís it going to take for this to be a good year for you?
Iíd like to be trying to make top ten as much as I can in each race. I havenít really got a final goal yet, because Iím still trying to work out whatís going on here and itís come up a bit fast. So Iíll just take it race by race, and as long as I can improve each race, then Iíll be happy. I donít want to go backward or stay at the same level. As long as I can keep getting closer and closer to the front guys, then Iíll be happy.
Speaking of the front guys, itís got to be pretty cool to be lining up with Rossi and the boys.
Yeah, for sure. Even last weekend, when I passed him, I was like, ďWhoa, that was Rossi!Ē Itís definitely very cool.