At last, confirmation has been forthcoming of something the world has known for the past week or so: Yamaha Motor Europe have finally confirmed that they have released Ant West from his contract to ride for them in World Supersport for the rest of 2007. The press release makes no mention of which team West will be joining, but there really is only one viable option open: The Kawasaki Racing Team. After all, no one else is in desperate need of a rider.
The most interesting aspect of the press release is probably the timing. Normally, this kind of release is coordinated between teams, but the press statement has been released ahead of official confirmation by "a competitor brand" that West will be riding for them. This may cause a little discomfort in the "competitor brand's" team, as it is possible that the "competitor brand" has not yet told Olivier Jacque that he's going to be their test rider for the rest of the year, like he was last year.
The other thing worthy of note is that West had to pay a financial penalty to break open his contract. And the wording of the text could make you think that West will be paying this out of his own pocket, the "competitor brand's" generosity not stretching to covering the costs of a contract breach.
But Yamaha's disappointment is understandable: With two wins and a podium out of three races, the team must have believed they would be collecting a good deal of silverware over the next few months. Now, they will have to find yet another replacement. The obvious name would be Andrew Pitt, who has already rode in World Supersport this year, and has just been contracted to work as a test rider for the Yamaha MotoGP team. But this remains speculation at this point in time.
The full text of the Yamaha press release is shown below:
Yamaha Releases World Supersport Winner Anthony West
Yamaha Motor Europe has agreed to release Anthony West, at his request, from riding the R6 in the remaining races of the 2007 Supersport World Championship. West has been offered a chance to ride in MotoGP for the rest of the season for a competitor brand and has accepted a financial compensation agreement with Yamaha to terminate his current contract.
West was hired by Yamaha to replace Kevin Curtain, who is currently out injured following an accident at the Valencia round back in April. Swapping his GP250 two-stroke machine for a 600 stock based four-stroke West showed his capability very quickly, finishing third in his first race at Monza.
West was initially contracted only to ride for the Yamaha World Supersport Team in the Monza event. But, after it was confirmed that Curtain's recovery period was going to be longer than originally anticipated, Yamaha and West extended the one-event agreement to the remainder of the season. He went on to win the Supersport race at Silverstone and also won at last weekendâ€™s round in Misano, reconfirming the championship potential of the R6.
"It's such a strange feeling, making this decision. Yamaha gave me a fantastic chance to show my potential on the R6. Itâ€™s thanks to this ride that I feel I've got my career back on track. To leave Yamaha now is sad but it's such a great chance for me to follow my dream to go to MotoGP.
Yamaha didn't want to block this chance for me; Iâ€™m grateful they believed in me and gave me the chance to prove myself. I want to add that Iâ€™m really sorry to the supersport team guys and Iâ€™d like to thank them for all their hard work and support. The crew have been great and the bike was fast from the first minute I sat on it. Iâ€™ve not been used to such a professional team and they really made me feel at home.
The financial compensation Iâ€™ve got to pay is severe but I've got the chance to show what I can do on a MotoGP bike and I hope it's worth it. It was important for me to be released from the team by mutual agreement; I'm still young and Yamaha is a good company and, who knows, maybe at some point in my career we can work together again."
Laurens Klein Koerkamp, Racing Manager, Yamaha Motor Europe
â€œWe are obviously disappointed by releasing a winning rider from his contract, which is not our normal conduct! But rather then going to court we have been able to find a financial settlement; a solution we can only accept because Anthony was a replacement rider drafted in during the season and only had a theoretical chance to win the championship. Nevertheless, we deeply regret his decision, which leaves the team disappointed. All the same, Anthony is a good rider and I wish him all the best in pursuing his dream. We are currently working to replace him and have plenty of time before the next race."
The ninth round is at Brno in the Czech Republic on 22nd July, with two Yamaha World Supersport Team tests planned prior to that.