Antony West faces his final MotoGP ride for Kawasaki at Valencia this weekend, but intends to return in the future for a third crack at the premier-class.

The Australian, who rode a privateer Honda during the 2001 500cc season, returned to the premier-class halfway through the 2007 season, when two wins from three stand-in World Supersport starts saw him picked by Kawasaki to replace the frequently injured Olivier Jacque.

West finished all eleven of the remaining races, claiming a best finish of seventh and scoring ten times for a solid total of 59 points. But the 2008 ZX-RR has proven far more troublesome and, after 17 race starts, West has scored just 50 points and sits 18th and last of the full time riders in the world championship standings.

Nevertheless, the former 250GP race winner and renowned rain rider, heads to Valencia just one point behind his 2009 replacement Marco Melandri and a mere five points from team-mate John Hopkins.

West would surely love to leapfrog both of those riders with a strong final Team Green appearance, before joining Stiggy Honda for the 2009 World Supersport Championship.

"It's been a tough season for me, and I haven't achieved the results that I was expecting going into my first full year as a factory rider," he said. "Next year I'll be racing elsewhere, but my MotoGP aspirations are far from over.

"2009 will be a year to regroup, to try and impress in another championship and, if I can do that then there's no reason why I shouldn't make a return to MotoGP in the future. That's what I'm aiming for anyway."

West has managed to break into the top ten on only three occasions this season, but said that that was a realistic goal to set himself for the Spanish race weekend.

"We've been missing something all year, and that means we been less competitive than we were expecting," he said. "Realistically it will be difficult to run at the front in Valencia, but a top ten finish should be achievable.

"I'm only one point behind Marco Melandri in the championship standings, and I hope I can pull in enough points in the last race to beat the rider who'll replace me at Kawasaki next season."

Hopkins will continue with Kawasaki in 2009, but the 25-year-old Anglo-American is keen to draw a line under a difficult season with a good showing this weekend. Hopkins finished on the podium for Rizla Suzuki at Valencia last year and while a repeat performance this weekend would be a major surprise, the Anglo-American has a top ten finish in his sights.

"I'm looking forward to Valencia, as I seemed to click with the circuit last year and finished the race on the podium," said John. "It's been a long season, with a lot of ups and downs, and the injuries have held us back a lot. But, I want to finish my first year with Kawasaki on a high so I'll be pushing hard for a good result this weekend, although the podium may be slightly out of our reach this time around.

"The Valencia circuit demands a lot of a bike and rider, so set-up will be critical this weekend. If we can get the bike working well during practice and qualifying, I think we can be confident of a top ten finish in the final race of the season," he added.



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