Just hours after Ant West announced on his Facebook page that he would not be racing in MotoGP, as he was unable to find the sponsorship to fund his ride at the Speed Master team, the team issued a press release announcing West's replacement. Italian rider Mattia Pasini is to take West's place, and ride the Speed Master Team's Aprilia CRT bike in MotoGP for 2012.
Rumors had emerged earlier today that Pasini would be racing in Moto2 in 2012, with much speculation that the Italian would be riding for the Stop & Go Racing team. Those reports were based on an announcement on Pasini's Facebook fan page that he had finally signed a contract for the upcoming season, but only later did it emerge that Pasini would be racing in MotoGP rather than Moto2. Despite West's obvious ability - masked during his time at MZ by organizational problems in the team, which made it impossible to ensure a consistent setup for the bike - Pasini is a more natural fit with the Speed Master project. Pasini is highly popular in his native Italy, and having an Italian rider on an Italian bike in an Italian team is a much easier proposition to sell to Italian sponsors.