Austin: On the last four laps of qualifying for the Grand Prix of the Americas, QMMF Racing Team rider Anthony West found a good rhythm with his Speed Up prototype and gained confidence to be able to fight for a top ten position in the Moto2 race.
The 32-year-old Australian had struggled with set-up issues in the free practice session on Saturday morning. Further changes to his machine improved both cornering and grip, but West needed some time in the crucial qualifying session to find the right riding style.
Without any slipstream on his fastest lap, he eventually climbed up to 19th place on the starting grid and is now looking forward to claw his way towards the front in the race.
Spanish team-mate Román Ramos continued his steady improvements in the morning session, where he took another second off his previous best time, but ran into a few small set-up problems in the qualifying in the afternoon. Unable to match his previous best time, Ramos had to settle for 32nd place on the grid but plans to attack in the race.
West said: “I wasn’t really happy this morning, because the bike didn’t feel good. I still couldn’t get the bike to turn or get enough grip, so we concentrated on solving these issues and finally got the bike to turn better. In qualifying, I probably didn’t really understand how the bike was until the end of the session.
“I just couldn’t get it to work, also because there was a lot of traffic and I didn’t get a good run. In the end, I went out on my own. I told myself that I had to relax, because every time I’m getting frustrated, I ride slower because I become too aggressive on the bike. So I tried to relax, to understand the bike and on the last four laps, I felt really good with the bike. It turned out that we made a huge step in comparison to how it felt this morning. I did my time completely alone without any slipstream and now I’m confident for the race.
“Turning is much better and even though the bike is still not gripping, it is more controllable. Before, it was really aggressive, kicking me out of the seat and messing up my lines. Now I am able to slide it and keep it under control. It should be good for the race. My aim is the same as it was at Qatar: To get a good start and fight for a Top Ten position,” he added.
“In the third free practice session this morning, I went quite a lot quicker than yesterday. I was a full second faster than on Friday, which gave us confidence for qualifying this afternoon. I was convinced I would end up with a good position on the grid, but it was not meant to be. We had a few small problems with the bike and I couldn’t improve further, I was in fact a bit slower than this morning. But we will keep working to solve these problems in order to be well prepared when it counts tomorrow. I definitely want to make up a few positions in the race,” Ramos said.