Anthony West is back to stay

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Friday, 14 February 2003

Anthony West is back to stay

Anthony West returns to Grand Prix racing in 2003 after a miserable season spent kicking his heels in his native Australia. The former Shell Advance Honda rider, who had an outstanding 2000 season in the 250 class, finishing in sixth place behind current MotoGP stars Olivier Jacque, Shinya Nakano, Daijiro Kato, Tohru Ukawa and Marco Melandri, endured a torrid time aboard a 500cc Honda V-twin in 2001 and feared his top level racing career might be over before it had even begun when he failed to clinch a ride for 2002. However, West will this season line-up alongside close friend Johan Stigefelt aboard an Aprilia, and returns to the quarter-litre category determined to prove that he is here to stay.

`I am still not entirely happy with that 2000 season, and I think I could have done a lot better,´ declares West. `That is my aim now – I´m focused on winning races, not finishing fourth and fifth. Obviously I am not at 100% yet because I have only had two tests – I will need to ride the bike a lot more and build a good relationship with the team – but I am really happy with what I have seen so far and am prepared to do everything possible to make this work. I have been training harder than ever on the physical side and soon I will be moving to Italy to be closer to my mechanics. I thought I would never get another chance in Grand Prix, so now I have it I am determined not to waste it.´

The 21 year old from Maryborough had stated at the end of 2001 that he had no intention of returning to ride a 250, but he revealed that his first test with the Aprilia convinced him he had made the right choice. `It is true that I never really liked the 250, because I didn´t think it suited my style, but after trying the Aprilia I don´t mind it so much. With the Honda I always had trouble with the sitting position and could never really get comfortable, but the Aprilia felt great the first day I rode it. After two tests I was matching my 2000 times and I know the bike will get better so I am optimistic. The mechanics seem top level and really I couldn´t have asked for a better deal.´

The competition in the 250 category this season is expected to be tough, but could the quality possibly be as high as the class of 2000? `I think it is impossible to compare - you never know exactly what will happen. For instance, somebody like Poggiali could just come through from nowhere and run away with it. So I can´t say whether the championship will be easier or harder than 2000 – I´m just looking forward to getting back into it. All I want to do is ride´.

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