Gritty Queensland international's thrilling wildcard podiums.
With Phillip Island’s opening round of the 2018 Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) right around the corner, including the hard-fought World Supersport ranks, Australian fans will get the opportunity to see Queensland veteran Anthony West on track once again vying for victory.
Almost two decades after making his world championship debut, West has been on the podium the last two years in a row with minimal support aboard a privateer Yamaha YZF-R6, taking third on both occasions in 2016 and 2017 after a pair of heroic performances.
Back in the 2016 season and without a full-time ride in place, West was in the mix to win throughout the race won by fellow ex-Moto2 regular Randy Krummenacher, with Federico Caricasulo crossing the line as the runner-up finisher.
“From what we have put together, thrown a bunch of Aussie guys in together that didn’t know each other, didn’t know the bike and throwing this bike together last-minute has been quite ambitious,” West said at the time. “I didn’t think we were going to be even close to the front, we all just kept trying to push it and get the best out of the bike that we could and I just rode the wheels off it.
“I think it’s the best result that we could possibly get with this bike and the equipment we had. If you see what we had to deal with against these world championship guys, it’s normally a near impossible effort, but we’ve pulled it off. Thanks to Green Tea X50 for putting the money in, it’s the first time I’ve had any real sponsorship – without them I wouldn’t have had the chance to be here today and have that result.”
Last year, storming from 22nd on the grid to third in the restarted 10-lap showdown, wildcard entry West made it onto the WorldSSP rostrum at home for the second year in a row, but this time it was even harder than one year ago and once again against the odds.
Engine problems hindered his progress throughout race week and, despite high expectations from onlookers going in, West was toward the tail-end of the field throughout much of the round. Signs of improvement came in the morning warm-up after borrowing a motor and doing an all-nighter to make the race, where he soldiered on for a fantastic third-place finish behind Roberto Rolfo and Lucas Mahias.
“I’m not coming here anymore dreaming that I’m going to get a factory bike because I’ve just blown everyone away on a bike with 10 horsepower less,” he told us. “I know the realities of the world championship, the politics and the money that’s involved. It’s more about personal satisfaction to come here and, in a way, tell them to get f**ked [laughs]! It’s kind of like that, so it’s awesome to get my friends together and have my dad here. It was super-stressful and we had huge problems, mostly because of budget.
“I’m happy we pulled it off and beat all of these guys. I was being optimistic about doing these next two races, which I posted on social media, but in reality I just don’t have the money. As much as people put in, all of it goes into this race, plus a lot of money from X50. I probably spent around 15 grand for everything else, so you couldn’t do it any cheaper than that. These guys have worked for free, sometimes putting their own money in, and it’s still an expensive race.”
Now, after a solid campaign that saw him eventually card eighth in the 2017 WorldSSP series alongside an impressive run in the Asia Road Racing Championship, a newly-formed relationship with the Puccetti Racing Kawasaki team will see him ride a factory-specification ZX-6R within his own EAB Racing Team for the full season and chances are he will have his best chance yet to win at home.