Ant West fastest Kawasaki on opening day in Sepang

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In his first ever ride in the Superbike World Championship Anthony West found a happy Friday feeling at Sepang, as he rode to ninth after the first two combined practice sessions, becoming the best Kawasaki rider on show. Not bad when those just behind him are the 2013 and 2015 World Champions, Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes.

After racing in the Asian championships in Thailand, West found himself in the right place at the right time. Pedercini has apparently found a rider that has shown more of the true level of a Kawasaki privateer machine, which shares Showa suspension and electronics with the factory machine.

“This ride came about because of opportunity,” said West on Friday evening. “I was in Thailand, racing in the Asian Championship. So a short flight from Thailand to here and jumped on it for the first time. For me I feel like the set up we can improve a lot but I just needed to jump on it and everything felt quite good. Nothing felt too strange with the bike and I like riding bigger bikes more than 600s so I was having fun with it. It was easy to play with it.”

West confirmed he had never ridden as full WSBK machine in anger before, as the well-travelled Aussie explained. “This is my first time to ride a World Superbike. I have ridden in Superstock, I tested a Ducati Superbike in like 2007 or something. I have never raced one. I have done everything else! I worked out that this is the eighth world championship class I have done. 125GP, 250GP, 500GP, Moto2, MotoGP, WSS, Endurance WC and now World Superbike. Everyone keeps asking me where do you live but I actually do not have a home.”

For West now, making Saturday Superpole and then race one as happy as Friday was is next up. He has already qualified straight into Superpole two, so will start from no lower than 12th place.

“There are track sections where I am losing a heap of time,” he said of where he can make progress. “Turn two, the slow one from turn two to three and then the slow one, the hairpin corer, out of there I am losing. Silly turns but everyone I followed has just smoked me out of the turns and made a big gap on me. Then I seem to just pull it back in on the rest of the track. I was trying to tell them I need to do some things on the bike but it is kind of hard because it is the character of the Kawasaki. So we will see what we can do with it, get the best out of it. These guys have been working with it a long time so I will try to follow their way with it so trying to make it do what it can’t do might be losing our tail so I will trust them to set it up.”

Gordon Ritchie

By Gordon Ritchie