Australian wild card, Anthony West, has again displayed his “never-say-die” attitude by finishing in a superb third place aboard his Yamaha in round one of the 2017 Supersport World Championship (WorldSSP) at Phillip Island this afternoon.
If the Aussie wild card’s performance wasn’t exciting enough for the local spectators, the battle for the win was one for the ages as veteran Italian Roberto Rolfo (MV Agusta) took victory, holding off Yamaha’s Lucas Mahias by just 0.001 seconds – the closest finish in World Supersport history.
West’s third was an amazing effort for the Queenslander who had experienced a disastrous week with a litany of engine problems on his Yamaha. But West showed his customary aggression and fighting qualities in the 10-lap race as he immediately began carving his way through the field from a lowly grid position and latched onto the tail of the leading group.
It was always going to come down to a battle of wits on the final lap, and West’s luck finally turned when Federico Caricasulo (Yamaha) and Frenchman Jules Cluzel (Honda) collided at turn 10, which allowed the Queenslander to move into third position.
Despite his makeshift engine being well down on horsepower, Westy held onto third position until the chequered flag to take home the final spot on the WorldSSP podium for the second year in succession.
West said the result “was amazing” considering the difficult circumstances.
“From Monday until now it has been a disaster with broken engines… and we didn’t expect to even race,” said West. “Our bike was down 10 horsepower on the others, so to finish third is simply an amazing result.
“All my friends and families helped me put this all together, not to mention local sponsors, so it’s a real Australian effort. I am so happy to give something back to them with this great result. It’s awesome.”
Briton Kyle Ryde (Kawaski) was fourth from Finn Niki Tuuli (Yamaha) and American polesitter Patrick Jacobsen (MV Agusta), who had to fight his way back through the pack after running off at turn 10 on lap three.
It was also a brilliant day for the two other Aussie pilots, with Aiden Wagner making a superb debut for his new Honda team in seventh, while 17-year-old Lachlan Epis (Kawasaki) was 10th.
The 22 lap World Superbike race will be run at 3pm for the season opening Yamaha-Finance round.
WorldSSP Race Results:
1. Roberto Rolfo (Italy) – MV Agusta
2. Lucas Mahias (France) – Yamaha – Gap 0.001seconds
3. Anthony West (Australia) – Yamaha
4. Aiden Wagner (Australia) – Honda
10. Lachlan Epis (Australia) – Kawasaki
The 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship kicks off at Australia’s Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit with the Yamaha Finance round from February 24-26, and is set to be a scorcher. Go to www.worldsbk.com.au for event information.
Tickets are available at the gate