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West To Replace Jacque At Kawasaki

After what seems like weeks of speculation, even though it's only been a few days, the deal has finally been done: Anthony West will ride the works Kawasaki in MotoGP for the rest of the season, according to Motorcyclenews.com. West is to replace Frenchman Olivier Jacque, who has suffered a nightmare season with injury so far this year. Jacque will return to working as Kawasaki's test and development rider, taking the place of Naoki Matsudo, who has been out with a broken pelvis.

West has had a genuine roller coaster of a season so far, breaking with his 250, Team Sicilia, over money and technical problems, whilst winning 2 out of the 3 World Supersport races he entered during his free weekends for the factory Yamaha team. He had originally signed a contract to run the rest of the season with Yamaha in Supersport, but his contract allegedly has an escape clause built in if he is offered a ride in MotoGP.

West previously competed in the premier class in 2001, aboard a highly uncompetitive Honda V-twin 500, finishing 18th, well ahead of his team mate. The equipment he will be riding now is a good deal more competitive, as Randy de Puniet's 5th place at Catalunya demonstrated. The Kawasaki Racing Team have been complaining all season that their riders weren't living up to the potential of the bike, but with West coming into the team, they must be hoping that that will change.

~~~ UPDATED ~~~

Finally, it's been officially confirmed.

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Yet More Confirmation That Lorenzo Will Ride For Yamaha Next Year

Although widely regarded as a done deal, official news on a potential link up between reigning 250 world champion and the Fiat Yamaha team remains conspicuous by its absence. But two different sources, the Italian site GPOne.com, quoting the sports daily Corriere dello Sport, and AS.com, quoting the Spanish weekly magazine Solo Moto, are both saying that the deal has already been signed, and that Jorge Lorenzo will ride for Yamaha in MotoGP next year. Lorenzo and his manager Dani Amatriain have said that they will not make an announcement until after the summer, to allow the Mallorcan to concentrate on prolonging his 250 world crown, and so confirmation is unlikely to come from them, nor from Yamaha, who are notoriously good at keeping secrets, as the silence around their signing of Valentino Rossi at the end of 2003 proved.

The question remains whether Lorenzo and Rossi will share a pit box. Rossi is said to be against the move, and so either Rossi or Lorenzo could find themselves in a separate team. But with both riders being such big names, finding cash to fund those teams should not be a problem.

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Kenny Roberts Jr To Skip Donington

Team KR have announced that Kenny Roberts Jr is to take a rest, and miss the Donington race. The former 500cc world champion feels he has reached the end of what he can do with the current equipment, and cannot provide the team with any more input, until the new chassis which the team is working on for the KR212V turns up after Assen.

With Jonny Rea having pulled out earlier today, the team will run only one rider, Kenny's younger brother Kurtis Roberts. Kurtis rode at Mugello and Barcelona, and will now be in the luxurious position of having two bikes at his disposal. With the weather looking decidedly English (read: some sun with a dash of rain mixed in) this weekend, two bikes look like being an absolute necessity.

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More Ant West - Wild Card At Donington With Kawasaki

There seems to be no end of news coming out of the West household today. Dutch racing site Racesport.nl is reporting that Ant West is on the entry list as a wildcard on the Kawasaki for the British Grand Prix at Donington on Sunday. What's more, as we speculated here before, Racesport is saying that West will take Jacque's place for the rest of the year. OJ's injuries look like putting a premature end to the Frenchman's career, and the Kawasaki team have made no secret of their dissatisfaction with his performance this year. OJ spent last year working as a test rider for Team Green, but has had a great deal of difficulty adapting back to racing again, missing the aggression needed to pushing for 25 laps during a race.

West, on the other hand, has shown exactly what he is capable of once put on competitive machinery, by taking two wins and one third place in the three World Supersport races which West rode for Yamaha in place of the injured Kevin Curtain. So impressed were Yamaha with the Australian that they offered him a contract to ride for the rest of the year. The move to Kawasaki should not be a problem, as West's contract with Yamaha allegedly contains a get-out clause allowing him to make the switch to MotoGP should an opportunity present itself. It looks like exactly that has just happened.

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It's Off Again - Jonny Rea Out Of Donington GP

Jonathon Rea, the young Irish rider due to make his MotoGP debut at Donington as a wild card on the Team KR bike, has been withdrawn from the British GP by Honda Racing, according to Motorcycle News. The reasons given were his extremely full riding schedule over the next few weeks, with both BSB rounds and the Suzuka Eight Hours race to compete in. Rea is reported to be saddened, but understanding, and pleased to be focused back on attempting to conquer BSB.

No news of an alternative wild card rider for Team KR has been announced.

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Jacque Doubtful For Donington - Nieto Or West Could Substitute

Olivier Jacque's fitness problems continue apace. After injuring his neck during a crash during practice at Catalunya, chances are high that OJ will not be fit to compete at Donington. A spokesperson for Kawasaki told Eurosport that the team is awaiting the results of fitness tests on the French veteran, before making a final decision on whether he will race in the British Grand Prix or not.

If OJ is not judged to be fit enough to race, that will leave the question of his replacement. Spanish Superbike rider Fonsi Nieto took OJ's place the last time he was injured, riding the Frenchman's bike in a sodden Le Mans race. Nieto failed to make a huge impression, finishing 11th. And so Kawasaki might just take a chance on Anthony West, the Australian rider who has made such a huge impact in World Supersport with Yamaha, winning 2 out of the 3 races he has ridden in, and is no available, after parting ways with his 250 GP team after the Barcelona round. West tested for Kawasaki after the Barcelona GP, setting respectable times, leading to speculation that the Australian could join OJ's place should the Frenchman leave Kawaski prematurely. West is under contract to Yamaha to finish the World Supersport season with the team, but details of the contract have not been revealed, so it is not clear whether West would have the option to swap the Yamaha Supersport team to join Kawasaki. Either way, it's been a remarkable ride for Ant West so far this year.

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West And Kawasaki, Or How Not To Negotiate A Contract - Updated

Yesterday, I wrote about rumors from the World Supersport paddock that Anthony West is going to join Kawasaki. And today, those rumors look like being confirmed: A kind reader ("Windsok") posted a link to Ant West's MySpace page, which now bears the following message:
YEEEEEEEEEEE HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA lean mean and green HI ALL LOOK OUT TEAM GREEN ANTWEST THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR COMENTS I DONT HAVE TIME TO MSG ANY OF YOU IM STILL ON THE ROAD OK GOTA GO SEE YA antwest

This would seem to suggest that West has actually done the deal, and will be replacing Olivier Jacque at Kawasaki. However, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that one of Ant's fans (and they truly are fanatical) has hacked West's page and added the message, in the hope of moving the process along. MySpace is, after all, just protected by a password, and the very briefest of introductions to Social Engineering should provide you with a good guess at what someone's password is likely to be. I hope to get clarification from Kawasaki soon. News as soon as it breaks.

~~~ UPDATE ~~~

Well, unsurprisingly, Ian Wheeler of Kawasaki could not confirm that a deal has been reached between the team and Anthony West. Interestingly, he also could not confirm whether the team was involved in negotiations with the Australian. Wheeler pointed out that West's MySpace message could refer to the testing that Ant had done for the Kawasaki team at Catalunya.

~~~ UPDATED AGAIN ~~~

The rumor is no longer just a rumor, confirmed at last.

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West And Kawasaki, Or How Not To Negotiate A Contract - Updated

Yesterday, I wrote about rumors from the World Supersport paddock that Anthony West is going to join Kawasaki. And today, those rumors look like being confirmed: A kind reader ("Windsok") posted a link to Ant West's MySpace page, which now bears the following message:
YEEEEEEEEEEE HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA lean mean and green HI ALL LOOK OUT TEAM GREEN ANTWEST THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR COMENTS I DONT HAVE TIME TO MSG ANY OF YOU IM STILL ON THE ROAD OK GOTA GO SEE YA antwest

This would seem to suggest that West has actually done the deal, and will be replacing Olivier Jacque at Kawasaki. However, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that one of Ant's fans (and they truly are fanatical) has hacked West's page and added the message, in the hope of moving the process along. MySpace is, after all, just protected by a password, and the very briefest of introductions to Social Engineering should provide you with a good guess at what someone's password is likely to be. I hope to get clarification from Kawasaki soon. News as soon as it breaks.

~~~ UPDATE ~~~

Well, unsurprisingly, Ian Wheeler of Kawasaki could not confirm that a deal has been reached between the team and Anthony West. Interestingly, he also could not confirm whether the team was involved in negotiations with the Australian. Wheeler pointed out that West's MySpace message could refer to the testing that Ant had done for the Kawasaki team at Catalunya.

~~~ UPDATED AGAIN ~~~

The rumor is no longer just a rumor, confirmed at last.

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Rumors From Supersport Paddock Say West To Join MotoGP Team

Anthony West is a remarkable rider. He inspires extraordinary devotion amongst his fans (some even going so far as to offer to sell their kidneys to help fund competitive machinery), and equal parts admiration and misgiving among team owners and sponsors. West's talent goes without question, as whenever the circumstances have allowed the Australian to compete on his usually outclassed equipment, he has been a genuine factor to contend with, finishing well, and even winning, wet races. His two outings on the Yamaha Supersport bike have ended in a 3rd (in the dry at Monza) and a win (at Silverstone in the pouring rain). The margin of West's victory at Silverstone led many people to wonder why this man's talent hadn't been recognized earlier. Yet sponsors are wary of the Australian, whose frankness might best be described as taking openness to a new level. Never afraid to criticize either the bike or the team, he is a fan's dream, and a sponsor's nightmare.

West is at Misano this weekend, currently riding the Yamaha Motor Italia Supersport machine. He left his Team Sicilia ride in the 250 class last week, citing organizational and financial problems, and joined Yamaha in World Supersport to fill in for the injured Kevin Curtain. And yet already the rumors surrounding West have started: It is being whispered in the World Supersport paddock that this will be West's last race for the Yamaha team (despite having just signed a contract with them), and that the young Australian is off to join an unnamed MotoGP team.

Though the rumors carefully avoid naming teams, the obvious candidate would be Kawasaki. After testing for the Kawasaki team in place of the injured Olivier Jacque and Randy de Puniet at Catalunya this week, it was being suggested that West could take OJ's place at Kawasaki. The French veteran has made a miserable return to racing so far this season, and there are serious doubts about his motivation to race at the very highest level. West could be just the man that Kawasaki need to push the ZXRR Ninja to the front of the field. The team have great confidence in the bike (as de Puniet's 5th spot at Catalunya so clearly demonstrated), but feel their riders have so far failed to perform, and taking someone as hungry, and as obviously talented as Anthony West could be a short-cut to better results.

Whether this is just the fevered imagination of the motorcycle racing paddock, or reality, we shall have to see. More news as it becomes available.

~~~ UPDATED ~~~

The rumor is no longer just a rumor.

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Casey Stoner Extends With Ducati For 2008, And Possibly Beyond

Italian MotoGP news site GPOne.com is reporting that Casey Stoner has prolonged his contract with Ducati for 2008. The Australian, and current world championship leader, had an option in his contract to sign for another year with Ducati, and after Stoner's outstanding performance so far this year, Ducati were keen to tie him down for 2008. The contract is said to contain further options, which could lead to a very long term relationship between the Australian and the Bologna factory.

The question of Stoner's team mate is still undecided, however. Loris Capirossi is still favorite, but Capirex is said to be considering other offers, believed to include a very generous offer from Kawasaki. Other possibilities, according to GPOne.com, include Andrea Dovizioso and Alex de Angelis, both of which would make a great deal of sense, as Ducati is likely to want an Italian rider on board their bike. The one name which has been ruled out entirely is defending 250 world champion Jorge Lorenzo. Stoner and Lorenzo are believed not to get along (unsurprisingly, as there are very few people in the paddock who do get along with the Mallorcan superstar), and Lorenzo is believed to have already signed a contract with Yamaha for next year, despite opposition from Valentino Rossi.

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