Anthony West gave Marco Melandri a look at the type of bike he'll be riding next season, as Ant overtook the Italian on his way to twelfth in his home Australian Grand Prix.

The present Ducati Marlboro rider was one of six riders West passed - helped by accidents and incidents ahead - as he moved from 18th and last to twelfth by the end of the opening lap.

"On the opening lap I could see Marco Melandri ahead of me, so I thought I'd give him a good look at the bike he'll be riding next year - from the rear, obviously," smiled West, whose future plans remain unknown.

"The traction problems meant I was sideways on the gas right from the start, but by just holding it wide open, letting the rear spin up and using my bodyweight to steer the bike, I was actually able to drive it out of the corners pretty good."

West had been overtaken by team-mate John Hopkins on lap three, but immediately fought back and the pair remained together right to the chequered flag.

"After Marco the next target was John. I could see he was struggling for drive out of the turns even more than me, so it was just a case of closing the gap and choosing my moment," said West.

"Fair play to John though; he kept me honest by pushing me all the way to the end. I thought he might try something on the last lap, but I'm glad he didn't because I wasn't going to let him get away with that! It wasn't the result I was hoping for this weekend, but I'm happy I did the best I could with what we had to work with."

Hopkins eventually crossed the line half a second down on his team-mate.

"I settled into a rhythm and tried to keep in touch with the group ahead, but a few laps in I lost the front at Honda corner and ran wide, which cost me a few positions. It was then basically a race with Anthony, and we did the best we could with what we had," said Hopper.

"He just had a little more drive out of the turns and was able to stay ahead, but we were both particularly struggling on the final turn of the circuit. I could see that Chris Vermeulen was catching us towards the end of the race, so we just pushed as hard as we could to maintain our position.

"I'm looking forward to the next round because we had a positive pre-season test at the Sepang circuit, and hopefully we can gain a better result there."

Kawasaki's engineers will use the interval between now and the next race in Malaysia to try and identify and eliminate the cause of the rear traction problems that hampered both riders throughout the weekend.

"It's very clear that we need to improve our performance, not only for the end of this season, but also in preparation for next year," said Kawasaki competition manager Michael Bartholemy. "Both riders are suffering with similar difficulties and I think they both did the best they could with the package we gave them today. Our machines should be more suited to the Sepang circuit, and I hope we will have a better weekend there in two weeks time."

Melandri finished 16th and last.



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