Anthony West arrived at Donington still on the mend from a fractured wrist sustained in a high speed crash at Assen and bounced back from that injury to score good points at the British round of the Supersport World Championship.
Before the weekend started, he was expecting to physically struggle negotiating the Fogarty esses and the final two 180-degree turns that finish the lap. He found that although those braking areas were difficult, they were far easier to deal with than the high-speed direction changes required for achieving a fast lap around the circuit.
Free Practice 1 started with full wet conditions and a steady rain, where his prowess on the wet and slippery track was on display. Although wet conditions require more mental focus, the physical effort required is reduced and at the end of the fifty-minute session he was third, behind Mahias and Cluzel.
Free Practice 2 started under grey skies and a wet track. The bike was set-up for the wet at the beginning of the session and a full dry setting was prepared and ready to be installed should the track conditions change. Ant started the session on rain tyres and quickly resumed where he left off in FP1, that was at the front. Conditions changed quicker than anticipated and a dry line developed, bringing competitors in for slicks. With slicks installed and suspension adjusted to a full dry setup, Ant was back on track.
His first flying lap was five seconds faster than his previous fastest and he was holding position well within the coveted top ten positions that advance to SP2. With less than ten minutes to go in the session, competitors were installing fresh slick rear tyres for a final time attack. The team miscalculated the track drying and a second rear slick was not prepared. Without a fresh rear slick, Ant was unable to respond to the improving track conditions and tumbled down the order in the last few minutes to slip outside the top ten.
West was eager to get up to speed in FP3 and take that momentum into SP1. The dry setting from the day before was working well and Ant finished seventh and top Kawasaki.
SP1 was also dry and the track temperature had increased from 16-degrees to almost 32-degrees. West and the crew were focused on a time attack and worked out a strategy for three flying laps on a new slick and then a second run of three flying laps on another new slick, the additional flying lap made possible by the short 4km distance of the track. Although the lap strategy worked, the rising temperatures saw a decrease in rear grip and the physical nature of the track hampered Ant’s ability to match his time from FP3. Finishing fifth in SP1, Ant gridded on row five.
After a few minor changes for the Kawasaki ZX6-R in morning warm-up, including moving the shifter down to accommodate Ant’s compromised riding position, it was time to race. He got a decent start went the lights went out and was able to make up a position and cross the line in fourteenth after the first lap. By the end of lap three he was up to twelfth.
Lap six and he was up to tenth and after briefly getting as high as eighth, the Queenslander then started to struggle to hold on to the bike through the fast direction changes and began losing time.
Instead of pulling in to the pits, he adjusted his body position and was trying to hold on with his legs. When the checkered flag flew, he was eleventh across the line. When he arrived in parc ferme, he got off the bike and nearly collapsed on the floor, all the colour was drained from his face and the pain and discomfort of the twenty lap race was there for all to see.
His efforts were rewarded by a handful of points which ensured he stayed inside the championship top ten.
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