As Hopkins' team-mate for 2008
The Kawasaki Racing Team confirmed their full rider line-up for the 2008 season today at Misano, with the announcement that 26-year-old Anthony West has been signed on a one-year deal to ride alongside Kawasaki's other recent signing, John
Hopkins, next year.
West was drafted into the Kawasaki Racing Team back in June as a replacement for Olivier Jacque, who moved across to head up Kawasaki's Ninja ZX-RR development programme as the official factory test rider. Since his arrival in MotoGP, West has impressed with how quickly he has adapted to racing in the premier series, as well as his consistent results during what has been a period of intense adjustment for the Australian.
West, who resides in Austria during the season, has considerable racing experience, having started out in the Australian Dirt Track Championships in 1994, which he won soon afterwards. It was a similar story in 1996 when he won his domestic Long Track Championship as well. After a move to road racing, he won the Australian 250cc Production Championship in 1998 and took home the 'Rider of the Year' award.
West also had a period of racing in Japan before entering the international Grand Prix paddock in 1999 as a 250cc rider. After a brief foray into the two stroke 500cc series in 2001, he rejoined the quarter litre series only to be largely frustrated by substandard machinery and financial constraints that, whilst difficult to contend with, failed to quench his talent and determination to continue.
Earlier this year, West headed to World Supersport as a stand in for injured Yamaha rider, and fellow countryman, Kevin Curtain.
In the three races he rode for the manufacturer, he ended up with a third and two wins: at Misano and Silverstone. Then, having caught the eye of Kawasaki team boss, Michael Bartholemy, he was drafted in to replace Jacque in the factory MotoGP squad and hasn't looked back since.
His early performances have shown remarkable promise: he has notched up 33 points in just five rounds, with three of those finishes being in the top ten and, as he grows more used to the ZX-RR over time, Kawasaki are optimistic they will see him shine ever brighter on track.
With his obvious gift and unquestioned passion for racing, partnered with Hopkins' talents and wealth of experience, the Kawasaki Racing Team offensive looks set to light up the circuits of the world next year. Furthermore, the ever-advancing speed and consistency of the Ninja ZX-RR, along with the reliability and performance of their Bridgestone tyres, bodes well for an electrifying season in 2008.
"I feel great about how things have worked out. As you can imagine, it's a huge weight off my shoulders. This is definitely something I've been stressing about: whether I can stay in MotoGP and, if so, for which team. But this really is the best opportunity for me, to stay with Kawasaki, as I'm really happy here. It's such a good team and a great bike with all the support from the factory. Now, I've got one thing less to worry about so I can just concentrate on riding. It will be cool to be in a team with John Hopkins, too, as I know him pretty well and we get along together. He's riding really well at the moment, so hopefully I can push him next year! This is such a massive difference to where I was earlier this year in 250s. I didn't even think I was going to be racing again and now I'm in one of the best teams in the paddock and staying another year, so it's a big turn around. I'm just so glad I kept trying and stuck at it. With the chances that Kawasaki are giving me, it's really paid off, and I am looking forward to repaying their faith in me with some good results aboard the Ninja ZX-RR, both this year and next."
"I think a lot of people in the paddock were surprised when we brought Anthony into the team at Donington Park. His route to a factory team in MotoGP was not an orthodox one, but his performance so far this year aboard our Ninja ZX-RR was enough to convince Kawasaki that he was the right choice for next season. Now the pressure is off him, and I think we will see this reflected in his racing for the remainder of the season. As for his potential for next season, who knows? He's young and he has the chance to show what he can do, and I'm confident he will perform. Together with John Hopkins, we have a very strong line up for the 2008 season. They're both very determined riders and it's great to see a fantastic team coming together."