West to replace Jacque at Kawasaki
21 June 2007 – The Kawasaki Racing team today announced that Anthony West will replace Olivier Jacque for the rest of the 2007 MotoGP season. The 25-year-old Australian rider fills the void created by the decision for Olivier Jacque to move permanently to the role of test and development rider for the team.
After a number of crashes, which have resulted in numerous injuries and missed races, Jacque has been feeling increasingly uneasy about continuing in the series. Furthermore, Kawasaki's regular test rider, Naoki Matsudo, is out of action due to injuries sustained earlier this year. Therefore, the decision was made for Jacque, a former 250cc world champion, to return to full-time testing and development: an area where his skill and experience are proven and desperately needed.
Taking Jacque's place as permanent team rider, Anthony West joins the squad from having previously ridden an Aprilia in the 250cc class. Unhappy in that championship, he went on to make his mark as a stand in rider for the Yamaha World Supersport team. In just three races on the 600cc machine, West took one third place, at Monza, and two wins, at Silverstone and, last weekend, at Misano, which caught the attention of Kawasaki bosses and helped promote him to his new position in the premier class.
Making his factory MotoGP debut alongside Randy this weekend at the British Grand Prix at Donington Park, West has had little opportunity so far to ride Kawasaki's Ninja ZX-RR other than a brief testing session after the race at Catalunya, two weeks ago.
Unable to ride his usual number, 14, as it's already taken by teammate de Puniet, Anthony has bravely adopted the number 13 as his own.
Jacque commented on his decision: "I've crashed on several occasions this season, often with severe injuries and, right now, I feel tired and physically diminished. My body keeps telling me maybe it's time to move on and I don't feel competitive enough to ride at the top level. Obviously, it was a difficult decision to make but Kawasaki and I have reached an agreement that will allow me to stay involved in the racing world, for which I'm passionate, and play a role from the other side of the fence."
Anthony West said: "I left my 250cc team because the results weren't coming and I wasn't very happy there. Then I did some races on 600cc bikes with the Yamaha team, which have been really good and now I'm here to ride an 800cc factory MotoGP bike. Coming up from smaller bikes, the Ninja is much more comfortable to ride: it's bigger, I feel more natural on it and, overall, it suits me more. When I tested the ZX-RR, it felt right straight away: a lot easier to ride than I expected and the power's so smooth and easy to use. For the rest of the season, my aim is to be consistent, try to get some results and not to crash it straight away!"