It was a one off or wildcard ride there was always go be a fight. A fight against the world’s best Supersport riders and a fight against a struggling motorsport bureaucracy.
But that is exactly what Ant West did when he put together a deal to ride with the Green Tea X50 Yamaha in an Australian run team on an Australian bike.
West who was racing in the Moto2 Championship the last few years and previous to that in MotoGP field found himself with a ride this year.
Then there was a call to pull a bike together for Phillip Island and the WorldSSP Championship.
“We put together a few guys together here in Australia and we put together the best bike we could in a short time for this one race.
“At the moment it is one race to keep my name out there. Hopefully if we had a good result it could turn into something.”
I would like to race in Superbike paddock. I would prefer to be on a 1000cc Superbike – I feel I am better on that than the 600cc Supersport.”
But a good result is exactly what West put together. He was at the front throughout the entire race battling for a podium. In the end he grabbed a third just a fraction off second which was taken from him after the final corner.
This will definitely help him try to put together a few more race opportunities for the year something that he is keen on and is indeed starting to fund raise with a vengeance.
“There was talk of doing about 3 or 4 other wildcards in Europe but need more sponsorship to help that come together. Green Tea X50 are helping me a lot – paying for everything this weekend to be here.”
But just getting to Phillip Island wasn’t easy the tyranny of distance and the politics of Australian motorsport ensured that putting the bike together and testing the bike prior to the race weekend was difficult.
“Trying to get the parts from Europe, so far away in Australia. It is hard to get the things we need and test. Real racing parts are hard to find in Australia so everything has to come from Europe. You have to deal with different companies, the time differences and being over Christmas.”
“Australia is also so difficult to get on a race track and ride. In Spain I can get on a race track any day of the week and ride, no restrictions. In Australia you have to jump through hoops.”
This last point drove West to distraction unable to race a planned state weekend at Morgan Park after missing the early part of the weekend and being allowed on track.
He compare that with his time in Europe and were a culture shock that was to come back to a Australia and tried putting an Australian bike on an Australian track.
“In Germany or Spain – they know what you are there for and help you, let you go out on track and they do everything they can. They let you enter every class. Everything is easy.”
“But here they want to push you down and make life difficult for you. I haven’t had to deal with that for such a long time. Now I have done this, I have really been put off by it.”
But despite this West’s frame of mind and desire to race is probably stronger than it has been and is visible in his riding and in his character over the weekend at Phillip Island.
Undoubtedly has been through a stressful time in MotoGP and escaping their field and reconnecting with racing has helped him find his love for riding and competing again.
“I have forgotten about staying in the GP paddock like I have over the past years. It is a lot of stress, not much money, no results – due to bad teams.”
“So I have changed my approach. I am not trying to stay in GP. I want to have fun racing again and be on bikes that are competitive.”
This means he wants to look at many many different races around the world this year and commit to racing for many more years.
“I am looking at racing in the Asian Road Race Series – that is a possibility. I am looking at doing three wildcards in BSB on tracks I know like Silverstone, Assen, Donington.”
“There has been a few other areas – like America and BSB but can’t get the team together. But there are still opportunities to do one or two wildcards in MotoAmerica Championship. I do have a chance to go racing in Moto2 in the Spanish Championship and the Asian Championship on a Yamaha as well.”
Doing all this racing will do two things – it would rekindle his love of racing and it will also put him in front of the world stage once again.
West is not only thinking about 2016 but seeking opportunities further afield and he’s enjoying the World Superbike paddock. He believes that he has eight more seasons left in him and wants to be racing at the front over that time.
Whatever the case though his result of Phillip Island did him no harm at all and his attitude now would suggest that he could be there for many many more years – which will happen if he’s enjoying himself.
Ultimately his off-track battle is clear – and Ant West can sum it up quite quickly.
“This year I want to do a lot of racing, have fun again. Enjoy my racing again, get my confidence back up. Work on my fitness. I know if I am happier, I am going to race better.”
By Leonard Smith and Sam Tickell, March 2016
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