QMMF Racing Team riders Roman Ramos (left) of Spain and Australian Anthony West at Losail International Circuit on Wednesday. Picture by: Kammutty VP
BY RIZWAN REHMAT
DOHA: Seasoned Moto2 rider Anthony West is happy with the signing of Spanish talent Roman Ramos, saying QMMF Racing Team could get back to challenging the best in the new season that is just two days away.
Last year, 32-year-old West finished in 15th spot out of 51 riders as his inexperienced Indonesian team-mate Rafid Topan struggled for pace against the best in the Moto2 title race.
Soon after the season finished in November last year, QMMF replaced Topan with 22-year-old Ramos, the Spanish Championship winner in 2013.
“He (Ramos) is good. I actually watched him last year at the Spanish Championship. I was watching (Qatar’s) Nasser (Al Malki) and Saeed (Al Sulaiti) and I had seen him (Ramos) ride every day. I know he is a good rider,” West said inside the QMMF garage at Losail International Circuit.
“It is good to have someone at the same level, especially when you go to other circuits and when we try other things. He is going to be good,” the former MotoGP rider added.
“It was difficult for him (Topan) to be so young and competing at this level without experience. He had never ridden these types of bikes before. He was of no help to me as a rider or a team-mate,” West said.
Excerpts from a detailed chat with Anthony West:
Question: New season, fresh start: How do you feel?
Answer: I feel good. I feel a lot faster and fitter than I was last year. The bike, I think, is better. We are off to a good start. The bike looks really good. The whole team looks and feels good.
Question: How do you feel with your new team-mate?
Answer: He is good. I actually watched him last year at the Spanish Championship. I was watching (Qatar’s) Nasser (Al Malki) and Saeed (Al Sulaiti) and I had seen him (Ramos) ride every day. I know he is a good rider. It is good to have someone at the same level, especially when you go to other circuits and when we try other things. He is going to be good. He will do good to develop the bike and move the whole team forward together. As long as I am in front of him, I will be happy (laughs). He is a good rider. I think he will be of immense help to the team.
Question: As an experienced rider yourself, do you think that’s a good investment to have?
Answer: Yes. It was difficult for him (Topan) to be so young and competing at this level without experience. He had never ridden these types of bikes before. He was of no help to me as a rider or a team-mate. At least Ramos is on the same level. We can try more things at the race track. Last year I was doing everything on my own. We can speed things up as far as set-up goes up. We can even try things with the gearing. I think this should help over the weekends at each of the races, especially when we go for qualifying before the races.
Question: After a lean year, you think you can be on the podium again?
Answer: Yes, definitely. I feel better this year. I was so much faster in the pre-season tests that I ever was before. I am consistently faster. I feel confident about myself. I know the limit of the bike. I feel good and comfortable. I am going a lot, lot faster. I am .8 of a second faster every lap which is quite a huge difference on one of these bikes.
Question: You got new livery on the bikes. Are you happy about that?
Answer: Yes, I am happy about that. I love the Qatar flag but it is not a racing colour. I think the new colour this year is going to make us standout on the track. And it will make the team more noticeable and everyone who has seen the livery is in love with this. So I think we are getting more presence and more advertising with the new colours. It is good to see. It is good to see the words ‘QMMF’ on the side of the bikes. It looks pretty spectacular. I am impressed and I am happy about it. It makes you feel good as a rider because it looks really nice on a bike. I am excited about it.
Question: What are Anthony West’s personal goals as a rider?
Answer: I want to be on the podium as much as I can. My only goal is to be there. I am working harder than any time of my career. I changed a lot of things this year. I think I have made the right steps to move forward. I want to put myself on the front this year. It is possible to do it. It is never going to be easy but I think I am going to be faster consistently.
Q&A with Roman Ramos:
Question: How do you feel joining the QMMF Racing Team?
Answer: I am very happy because the team is very professional. I am happy that I got my opportunity in the Moto2 World Championship. I want to thank QMMF for giving me this opportunity. I am working very hard to make good results. I was good in pre-season testing. We put in many hours of work. I am happy the way we have shaped up for the new season. I think we are in a better position than we were at Jerez (for pre-season testing).
Question: What are your goals in 2014?
Answer: First target is to finish all the races I feature in. And then I want to go step by step. I want to score points for my team in the championship.
Question: You think you can win a race or be on the podium?
Answer: Well, it is (going to be) difficult for sure. But I will try.
But realistically speaking, it could be possible next year once I get more experience.
Question: What are your views on your senior rider Anthony West?
Answer: We have a good understanding. He talks to me a lot. He is a seasoned rider. He is far more experienced than me.
Question: What are your long-term goals?
Answer: Well, my long-term goal is to be riding in the MotoGP class. I know it is going to be difficult. You need a lot of experience to be there. But this is a good start for me. Maybe after two or three years, I could be there. Last year, I won the Spanish Championship. I was so happy because it was my dream to do that. I wanted to win the title. I worked hard. I was so focused. I was very happy to emerge as the champion. It took me so many years to get get there. I was second so many times but to win the title was just cool.
Question: Are you under pressure for your debut race?
Answer: No, no pressure at all (smiles). I just can’t wait to begin the race this week.