Seven seconds and a generation apart
Seven seconds. That is what Anthony West had over his competitors during Race 2 of the recent Round 4 of the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) 2018 at MMRT, Chennai. He is quick. Not for his age but due to it. His experience in pro motorcycle racing spans a year more than competitor Taiga Hada's age. Hada is 19. This score of experience shows when West can quickly adapt his race strategy from a keep-up-and-push-later in the closing laps of one race, to an out and out dominant lead in the next.
West won both races of the 2018 FIM ARRC Round 4 held in Chennai from August 3 to 5
The weekend I met him was his first outing at the MMRT. And yet, taking little time to adapt to the new track and conditions, West went on to win both the races of the Supersport 600 (SS600) class here. This is what sets his apart, and what could make him the first Australian ARRC champion at the end of this season.
West is aware of his age and knows the advantage it affords him. "I think my experience helps. I learn new tracks very quickly. For example, I haven't ridden this track before, while everybody rode it last year (during the ARRC 2017 round). Even two years ago, we went to New Delhi and nobody had seen that track (BIC) before. And immediately I was fast and won the races there," he tells OVERDRIVE.
Anthony wheelies past the finish after Race 2 of the Chennai round. He led his competitors by over 7 seconds
We are interrupted, by none other than Paulynne Cheng, head of communications for Two Wheels Motor Racing (TWMR), organisers of the ARRC. She congratulates West on becoming the new lap record holder for the MMRT, with a time of 01 min 40.585 sec aboard his Yamaha YZF-R6. Her timing couldn't be better. Point proven.
The years have taught him a simple mantra. "Relax, don't do anything stupid. This comfort, as you're older, helps set up the bike for the race. I read the tracks quite easily - I have ridden many different types bikes on different circuits all over the world," West says nonchalantly. What he doesn't mention is part of his track time was spent racing with the best in the FIM MotoGP, and Moto2 classes.
He sees a clear disadvantage for the younger riders. "Young riders have spirit and energy and they want to fight, but they don't think too much. They go really hard and fast from the start and I wait till the end and try to pass them," he says modestly. After a slow start from pole in the SS600 Race 2 here, I see him dispose of a file of five racers in a swoop from C9 through C11 at the MMRT.
"The experience helps, but everything gets harder as you get older".