Ant West: I'd Sack Me If I Was Kawasaki
Despite the romance and the glamor, life in motorcycle racing's premier series is a merciless existence. Just how tough it is is revealed in an interview MCN's Matthew Birt did with Ant West, in which West reveals his exasperation at his own form. In the interview, West concedes that if he was in charge at Kawasaki, he would probably sack himself, given his run of poor form since the beginning of the season. Kawasaki are expected to announce soon that West's contract will not be renewed for next year.
But finding a replacement will not be easy. Riders are hardly lining up for a shot on the Kawasaki ZXRR, especially after having watched John Hopkins slip from potential podium positions aboard the Suzuki to struggling to get into the top 10 on the Kawasaki. The only thing capable of tempting riders is money, and money is not something in abundant supply at Team Green, despite the Monster Energy sponsorship.
So West may yet get to stay in MotoGP. His main advantage is the fact that he is cheap, and the alternative for Kawasaki would be hiring another rider prepared to ride for pin money, in MotoGP terms. Until Kawasaki can improve the bike and get it running closer to the front, Kawasaki and West could yet be condemned to stick together.
The bigger question is why West should stay in MotoGP. The Australian would be almost certain to take the factory seat for Yamaha in the World Supersport series, and would have an excellent shot at the world title in that series, given the brilliance he displayed on a 600. And a decent seat in World Superbike should also be achievable for West, based on his performance in World Supersport and MotoGP. Though given that Kawasaki's record in World Superbike is even worse than in MotoGP, he would be wise to switch manufacturers in that series.
Silly season is hotting up, and MotoGP is approaching the point of the year when contracts are signed and riders are released. Ant West is a safe bet to be the second rider to go, now that Marco Melandri has been freed from another year of misery at Ducati.