When Ant West signed up as a factory Kawasaki rider to race in MotoGP, he could hardly have suspected just how miserable his life was about to become. The Australian had spent years trying to get into racing's premier class, accepting some extremely questionable rides in 250s just to get a chance at MotoGP. Tragically for West, his arrival coincided with a sharp decline in Kawasaki's fortunes, and after some promising results in 2007, West's career has been on a downward spiral, propelled by the dismal performance of the Kawasaki.
After hoping for a long while to somehow stay in MotoGP, Ant West seems finally to have accepted his fate. The German motorsports site Motosport Total is reporting that Westy is in talks for a ride on "a competitive Honda in World Supersport." "Practically my only option is the World Supersport championship. On a Honda," West told Motorsport Total.
Although there are a number of teams fielding Hondas in the World Supersport series, Motorsport Total says that paddock whispers say West's manager is talking to Ten Kate about riding for the team. West wouldn't confirm that rumor, though he admitted "I know the team, and I'd love to ride for them."
With Ten Kate having previously announced their 2009 lineup, a seat at the Dutch team which has dominated World Supersport seems highly unlikely. However, Andrew Pitt, the man who won the World Supersport title for Ten Kate, is known to be unhappy with the team, as he had hoped that a title would see him making a return to the World Superbike championship. But Pitt has been forced to watch his young team mate Johnny Rea move up to World Superbike, while he remains in Supersport to defend his title.
So Pitt could well be looking for an exit. If he does leave Ten Kate, then that would open the way for Ant West. And on previous evidence, that would not be a bad move for either Ant West or Ten Kate. In the three races that West rode in the series for Yamaha in 2007, West finished 3rd in one race, and won the other two. The bikes seem to suit West's style, and on board a Ten Kate, the Australian could end up being almost unstoppable.
Whether he ends up at Ten Kate or not, Ant West surely deserves a ride aboard competitive machinery somewhere. Kawasaki's failure has robbed West of confidence, and disguised the talent he has. On decent equipment, we may see the real Ant West emerge once again.