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Anthony West secures BSB seat
17 February 2012
After a near miss with Swan Yamaha, Anthony West has become the latest international star to confirm a place on the 2012 BSB grid.
The Australian - a former 250GP, WSS race winner and factory Kawasaki MotoGP rider - came close to landing the Swan Yamaha ride in place of the injured Ian Hutchinson, only to be overlooked in favour of Noriyuki Haga.
But West, who had originally been planning to return to MotoGP this year for the Speed Master CRT outfit, has now secured a seat alongside Patric Muff at Supersonic Racing, which is switching to BSB from WSBK. The team will run BMW machinery.
"It has been a difficult couple of weeks for me; I obviously lost the ride in MotoGP and before then I hadn't looked outside of that paddock," said West. "I looked at what John (Hopkins) had done by racing in BSB last year and I thought it could be a good move for me. I don't know a lot of the tracks, but I have experience of learning fast from the different championships I have raced in before.
"It will also be a new experience riding the BMW Superbike so it is exciting for me; the competition this year looks like it will be the best it has ever been in BSB so it will be a new challenge. My fans have been a great support to me and it was also their reaction of wanting to see me race in BSB that pushed me to continue my racing career."
West has raced for MZ in Moto2 for the past two seasons, claiming a best race finish of fourth.
As well as West and Haga, WSS stars Luca Scassa and Florian Marino are also moving to BSB for 2012. They will take on the likes of reigning champion Tommy Hill, plus former champion Shane Byrne and race winners Josh Brookes, Michael Laverty and Stuart Easton.
The 2012 BSB Championship will see electronic rider aids heavily restricted through the use of a standard ECU - and include a round at Assen, in The Netherlands.
BSB has a 'Showdown' format, where the top six riders in the championship after the Main Season have their points equalised and podium credits added, ahead of the final three-round Title Showdown.
John Hopkins re-launched his career by finishing a very close second to Hill in last year's championship.
Maxime Berger raced a Ducati for Supersonic in WSBK last season, while Muff scored podium finishes in last year's BSB Evo class.
"After my podiums and fourth place in BSB Evo last year, this season I had a single goal and that was to be back on the grid," said Muff. "After conversations with different teams, Danilo Soncini of Supersonic Racing offered me the chance to ride in his team.
"I'm so happy because they have a strong technical background with the official support from BMW Motorrad Italia. I am totally aware of what a big opportunity this is for me and I'll do my best to achieve the results.
"It certainly will not be easy with the entry of riders like my team-mate Anthony West and Noriyuki Haga, the level of competition this year has certainly increased. However, I can't wait to sit on my new bike for the first time!"
The Supersonic team, directed by team owner Danilo Soncini, had announced their retirement from WSBK in September 2011. The team will be equipped with factory specification S1000RR machines, supplied by BMW Motorrad Italia and adapted for the new BSB technical regulations.
"I'm still excited about everything that has happened in these past two months," said Soncini. "The decision to leave racing had left an emptiness that I was unable to fill in any other way than returning to racing, then there was an opportunity to compete in BSB.
"The championship is really the ultimate expression of passion for motorcycling and to be able to compete as an Elite Team fills me with pride.
"Unfortunately the project started late and thus we will not be able to attend the first test rides at the beginnig of March as the bikes are still under construction at BMW. From April 9th onwards we will however, not be caught unprepared but ready to entertain and have fun! Thanks again to all."
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