23 November 2007
West: It's been a crazy year!
West began this year as a 250GP privateer, before making a victorious switch to World Supersport in place of injured countryman Kevin Curtain. West's superb performances on the R6 prompted Yamaha to sign him full time, but he'd also caught the eye of Kawasaki - looking to replace Olivier Jacque - and Ant returned to the MotoGP paddock at Donington Park on a ZX-RR.
The deal was initially only until the end of the season, but West received a substantial boost when he was retained to ride alongside John Hopkins in 2008, after Randy de Puniet jumped ship to Honda LCR.
"It's been exciting," Ant told Crash.net. "I started the year in 250, then went 600 Supersport and now into MotoGP. It's been a pretty crazy year, but it's turned out to be a good one. I always preferred bigger bikes to the 250, so it actually wasn't too difficult to jump on something with more weight and power.
"I have to pinch myself a bit to believe what's happened this season, but it's probably even more hard work now I'm here," he continued. "I definitely have to put a lot more into it, so I can stay in MotoGP, because this is really where I want to be.
"It's good to finally get some testing in before a grand prix season starts, I've never really had that before and it makes a big difference. We've just come from Malaysia and now we're heading for Jerez in Spain. It's going to be pretty hectic over the winter. I'll have a few weeks off for Christmas and then straight back into it."
The wet weather ace took a best finish of seventh during his eleven MotoGP starts this season - and could well have achieved more had it not been for two start-line infringements - but the Australian says he was never completely comfortable on the bike.
"When we were racing it didn't really feel like my bike, but now we're starting to change a few things and it feels better," he said. "We've made a big improvement to some problems I'd been having with the bike all season, and it's only the beginning of testing. So it's starting to look good."
West finished the recent Sepang test eighth fastest and around 0.8secs from the best race tyre time set by Yamaha Tech 3's Colin Edwards, but claims chasing lap times is useless at this stage.
"I'm not really pushing for fast times at the moment, just trying to get my bike sorted out so that by the time we get to the first race we should be fast," West explained. "Lap times don't mean anything now; you've got to be comfortable on the bike. It's easy to do one lap fast, but to be consistently fast, like in race, is a lot harder. That's our aim at these tests.
"Then when the season starts I'll just have to go for it, get good results and make sure I can stay here!"
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