Ant West goes wild in Brazil with Superbike opener win
Still engaged in the fight for his race licence with the FIM, Anthony West has grabbed an opportunity to race in Brazil with the Kawasaki Racing Team Brasil, and hopes to complete the entire 10-round season. Brazil is outside FIM jurisdiction.
West has been nicknamed ‘The Gringo’ by the local racers after a rider briefing, a name he’s adopted with pride and now has plastered across the back of his leathers.
“I’m excited to get back on a superbike. After everything the FIM has done to try and stop my career, I jumped at the chance to ride the ZX-10R in the Brazilian Superbike championship. I was here and able to meet the team and ride the bike at the Interlagos circuit for the pre-season test. After riding the bike, I was more determined then ever to race again in 2019. Thanks to everyone at JC Racing and Kawasaki Brasil for making this happen. Thanks to Arai helmets and Fusports boots for sticking with me everywhere I go. And thanks to all fans who support me every step of the way. I figured after seeing how fast Alex Barros is at 48 and Troy Bayliss at 49 and still carving up younger riders that gives me hope I still have more then 10 years left in the sport. You’re not getting rid of me that easy.”
West kicks off Brazilian Championship tilt at Interlagos Circuit
Westy and team arrived at the Interlagos Circuit outside Sao Paolo, on Thursday morning with a full schedule of testing prepared ahead of competing in the opening round of the Brazilian Superbike Championship.
Unfortunately the weather wreaked havoc on these plans, with light rain all day and a damp the trac, but not wet enough for rain tyres and no dry line for slick tyres, the entire test program was scrapped and would have to wait until FP1.
Friday saw the team struggling with various electronics issues that were upsetting the bike on corner entry. The team were able to come up with a number of electronic strategies and chassis settings that allowed Ant to extract all the performance out of the Pirelli control tyres, they were rewarded on Saturday with a front row starting position.
Sunday morning arrived with clear skies and warm temperatures. By the time the lights went out for the start of the race, the air and track temperatures were hotter than the team had experienced all weekend.
With the demanding track layout of the Interlagos circuit, and the highest temperatures the team had seen all weekend, tyre wear was on everyone’s mind. This left Ant having to ride the bike without traction control, while the team was never able to complete a race simulation on Friday or Saturday to check for tyre life.
Ant was able to get a great start and led the field into turn one with ex Grand Prix star Alex Barros right behind him. Polesitter Eric Granado had a problem off the line and pulled into the pits with a mechanical failure. That left just Ant and Barros to battle it out at the front over the entire race distance, swapping the lead multiple times while leaving the rest of the field in their wake.
When the checkered flag flew, Ant crossed the stripe first with Barros a whisker behind him.
Anthony West – P1
“That was fun. From not being sure if I was going to be able to race this year, to standing on the top of the podium in my first race in the Brazilian Superbike championship, I couldn’t be happier. We lost a whole day of testing to the weather, we struggled with electronic issues, setup issues, and I injured my foot on the farm back in Australia. We just kept working and steadily made the bike better. It feels great to win a race and I can’t wait for the next round of the championship.”
The next round of the championship is back at Interlagos on April 14th.
Anthony West and the FIM Drug tests saga
The following statement from the FIM was released in November 2018, with no further updates since. The FIM originally notified Anthony West September 13, 2018, even though the FIM Anti-Doping Department were first notified of an “adverse analytical finding” from the testing facility in Germany on July 30, 2018. The FIM Medical Director notified the FIM Legal Department Director on August 24, 2018. The FIM Legal Department waited over two weeks to notify Anthony West, despite being required to give riders prompt notification of these findings.
“[Anthony] West remains banned from competing in any FIM motorcycling competition or activity until further notice. His ban is pending a final decision on the merits of the case.”
West’s latest statement on his continued battle for his race licence is as follows:
“FIM never responds to emails and does not want to talk on the phone. I’m still fighting. I do not know how long it will take.”