Speed Master has announced that Mattia Pasini will replace Anthony West as its MotoGP rider for the 2012 season.
On Friday, West revealed that he has been unable to find the funding needed to take up the ART (Aprilia) CRT ride with Speed Master - and may even retire from racing altogether.
That statement was followed by an announcement from Speed Master, revealing that former 125 and 250cc grand prix winner Pasini is to take over the seat, for what will be the team's first season in the premier-class.
Although Pasini has struggled in Moto2 he claimed 11 poles, 26 podiums and 10 wins in the two-stroke classes. The Italian also performed admirably during a test for Pramac Ducati in August 2009, which prompted a full three-day test with the factory Ducati development team a month later.
Pasini's best lap at the Mugello test was 0.2sec slower than experienced Ducati test rider (and now team manager) Vittoriano Guareschi, although Pasini felt he could have gone much faster without a fall.
“I didn't injure myself too badly but hurt my neck which perhaps affected my riding; I think that otherwise I would have been able to drop another second before the end of the day,” he said.
Prior to his grand prix debut in 2004, Pasini suffered a serious arm injury on a motocross bike, which prevented him racing for two seasons and was rumoured to mean he wouldn't ever have the strength to ride a MotoGP machine.
Ducati Corse general director Filippo Preziosi felt that, during the lengthy Mugello test, Pasini had proved MotoGP is possible.
“During this test I was able to personally verify that Mattia is capable of riding a MotoGP bike despite the difficulties”, said Preziosi. “This is possible only thanks to his unnatural talent and extraordinary determination.
“Today we have learned a lesson that goes deeper than the, albeit interesting, technical data that we've collected thanks to Mattia's comments. I am certain that we'll remember this test for a long time to come.”