Ant West

2008 Brno Qualifying Practice Report

At the end of the first day of practice at Brno, it was clear that there were two men a long way clear of the rest of the field. Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi were over half a second ahead of the man in 3rd, and the only riders capable of cracking into the 1'57s. The timing sheets seemed to tell a fairly clear-cut story of two fast men, a pack of riders all very close to each other, and another disastrous failure by Michelin. The grid seemed to be shaping up nicely.

The problem was, Saturday's weather threw not so much a fly as a whale into the ointment, after a storm front unleashed torrential rain over the Czech track, leaving the circuit completely drenched, though still ridable. With more rain coming in during the day, the grid was going to reflect a slightly different reality than Friday's practice had revealed, and confusing the picture even more, the forecast for Sunday is for the usual warm, bone dry conditions we have come to expect from Brno over the years.

During the morning's free practice session, Casey Stoner had already proved quite emphatically that he is probably the best wet-weather rider in the world, by stomping all over the competition. And as qualifying started in a light drizzle, he continued in the same vein. On just his 2nd flying lap, the Australian took a 5 second lead over the rest of the field, leaving his rivals gasping for breath.

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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.

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MotoGPMatters Desktop Images From Donington

In addition to the great photos from Laguna Seca, Scott Jones also provided us with some superb images from the British Grand Prix at Donington a few weeks earlier. Now, we've made some of his best pictures from that race available as desktop images as well. So far, the images are only available in one resolution, but check back for higher resolutions later.

Alex de Angelis at Donington

Alex de Angelis, not happy in the rain: 1024x768

Randy de Puniet at Donington

Randy de Puniet, equally fast looking both forward and back: 1024x768

Andrea Dovizioso at Donington

The most consistent of the rookies, Andrea Dovizioso: 1024x768

Colin Edwards at Donington

Colin Edwards, just short of the podium: 1024x768

 

Toni Elias at Donington

Toni Elias: 1024x768

 

Race Series: 

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2008 Sachsenring QP Report

After the damp morning practice, during which Dani Pedrosa finally pipped Casey Stoner to the post setting the fastest time in the dying seconds of the session, the big question in the afternoon was whether the Pedrosa could repeat this during qualifying, or whether Stoner would dominate as he had on Friday. It was a question Stoner seemed determined to answer in a hurry. He went straight to the top of the timesheets on his 2nd lap, and by lap 4, he was close to the previous pole record pace, with a time of 1'22.082, less than 7 minutes into the session.

Under normal circumstances, that time would have stood for most of qualifying, while the riders worked on their race setup, before breaking out the soft qualifiying rubber. But the possibility of showers disrupting practice meant that a number of riders took a very early qualifier, gambling that such a move could pay off if the rain started to fall for real. Alex de Angelis, Randy de Puniet and Colin Edwards all took a very early qualifier, with Edwards taking provisional pole well before the halfway mark, with a lap of 1'21.794.

Worryingly for Edwards, that time was only 0.2 seconds faster than the 1'21.996 set by Casey Stoner, in the middle of a long run on race tires. Qualifiers can generally be relied on to take close to a second off of your best time, so Edwards' 0.2 second advantage was looking more like a 0.8 second deficit, once Stoner got serious.

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2008 Donington QP Report

The weather had been forecast to be poor for the 2nd day of practice, and boy, where the weather forecasters right. Both this morning's free practice and this afternoon's qualifying practice took place in full rain. And like the morning's session, the afternoon's qualifying saw the wet weather specialists leap straight to the top of the table. Within ten minutes of the session starting, the tables were headed by three Australians: Casey Stoner, Chris Vermeulen and Ant West.

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