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Kawasaki confirm West as full-time rider for remainder of season

Kawasaki confirm West as full-time rider for remainder of season

Kawasaki Racing today made official the addition of Anthony West to their 2007 line-up, replacing Olivier Jacque who returns to his testing role for the team.

Kawasaki Racing today made official the addition of Anthony West to their 2007 line-up, replacing Olivier Jacque who returns to his testing role for the team.

In a press conference held at Donington Park, scene of the Nickel & Dime British Grand Prix, Michael Bartholemy and Ichiro Yoda from the team were joined by both West and Jacque to make the announcement, which comes off the back of a successful test for the Australian in the post-race test at Catalunya and Jacque's misfortune with injuries in his return to MotoGP action.

West will ride for the team for the rest of the season, accompanying regular rider Randy de Puniet onboard the Ninja ZX-RR. He previously rode 14 races on a 500cc machine in 2001, before dropping down to 250cc with a variety of teams. He most recently competed with Team Sicilia in the World Championship, although he had announced his intention to leave the team after the Catalunya Grand Prix, signing for Yamaha's Supersport team with which he has already taken two wins and one podium this season. Buying out his contract when the opportunity to ride for Kawasaki came about, West now has the ideal chance to show his skills on the biggest stage.

Team Manager Yoda explained that "I was scared for Olivier after the last crash. I asked him to quit as a rider and benefit us in another way."

Communications Manager Ian Wheeler emphasised that the move was not a demotion based on results, rather that the prospect of developing what is a competitive bike was too big a task in the absence of injured test rider Naoki Matsudo. He also announced that Jacque would assume his new role for this season and next.

Bartholemy explained that the move was made to allow Jacque to concentrate fully on his test work, away from the combined responsibility of development and earning results. He also detailed the difficult week that the team had experienced when trying to seal the deal to bring West into their project.

"Anthony did well in the Catalunya Test, but we have had a frantic few days arranging his deal with Yamaha. We can now ride with him this weekend and for the rest of the season, and we are just going to see how he goes at Donington. We really have no expectations for him in his first race in MotoGP."

Team-mate De Puniet already holds the number 14 with which West normally rides, having changed from 17 at the start of the season. In ironic celebration of his change of fortunes, the Australian will now run with the number 13 emblazoned on his bike. Known as ‘The Rain Man' in some circles because of his uncanny ability to ride in the wet, the 25 year-old could be in with a shout of upsetting some of the established names should the heavens open at Donington Park on his debut appearance, and he is hardly a shrinking violet in the dry either.

"I'm confident with the team and with the bike," said West at the press conference. It's been a dream to compete in MotoGP on a factory bike for as long as I have been in the paddock."

Tags:
MotoGP, 2007, NICKEL & DIME BRITISH GRAND PRIX, Anthony West, Kawasaki Racing Team

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