Ant West goes into this Sunday's 250cc Czech Republic Grand Prix with growing confidence as he develops a new partnership with fellow-Australian and KTM technician Warren Willing.

West believes Willing's experience in grand prix racing and expertise have been decisive in his impressive start as a works KTM rider in the past two rounds of the 250cc World Championship.

"Warren is usually the first person I speak to when I get off the bike and the things he says and does make it much easier for me," said West. "After practice and qualifying sessions we look at the data together and talk about bike set-up, tyres, and brakes, and the understanding we are building up is coming together really well."

The 24-year-old from the Gold Coast provided KTM's 250 machine with a memorable championship debut when he finished second in the rain-soaked British Grand Prix at Donington Park on July 24 and then he rode to 10th in the following race at the Sachsenring in Germany a week later.

"At Donington we had problems in the warm-up, but Warren made some changes and the bike was a lot better in the race," said West. "He always has a plan before we get to the track and with so much experience you are always learning something new - not just about the bike, but also racing in general."

Willing, who is KTM's technical advisor, has a past record which includes stints with Team Roberts when Wayne Rainey won the 500cc world championship in 1990-91-92, and then he switched to Suzuki where Kenny Roberts Jnr claimed the title in the premier class of road racing in 2000.

Willing said he had been impressed by West's determination and attitude.

"We've only done a couple of races together, but I followed his career for many years and I always thought he was someone who gave 100-percent on the bike and showed a lot of tenacity," said Willing. "Working with him confirms my thoughts. He's also very sharp - once you explain things to him he knows what's going on. Anyone who rides like he does in the wet shows the ability is there. It's the same with all good riders."

West has made 81 grand prix starts in the 125cc, 250cc, and 500cc categories since 1998, and won the 250cc Ditch Grand Prix in 2003, but KTM is his first factory team he has raced for. He said he appreciated the support of the Austrian manufacturer, plus Harald Bartol, who designed the KTM 250, and Ohlins technicians.

"The whole KTM team is a step up for me," said West. "I'm thankful for this chance and both KTM and I want to keep getting more competitive with every race."

West's best past result on the 5.4km Brno circuit, venue for Sunday's 10th round of the 250cc championship, was finishing fourth in 2004 on an Aprilia.

"The KTM has a good chassis so it should handle the downhill sections," said West. "Acceleration is important when you're going up the hill. Some of the corners are fast and flowing and you seem to be on half-throttle a long time because you don't want to run wide."

West said there had been continued development on the KTM's parallel-twin engine in the four-week break since the previous race in Germany.

 

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