Ant West To Retire From Racing Due To A Lack Of Sponsors

Popular Australian rider Ant West is to retire from motorcycle racing. The popular Australian made the announcement on his personal Facebook page, citing the failure to raise sufficient sponsorship to be able to pay for a ride for 2012. West was signed up to ride an Aprilia CRT machine for the Speed Master team in MotoGP in 2012, but was unable to find the 250,000 euros that the team had demanded he bring to the ride.

West posted on his Facebook page that he had attempted to sell his car, his motocross bike and his house in Switzerland to help fund the Speed Master ride, and had even offered his house as collateral. That had not been sufficient to save his ride, however. The Australian faces similar problems racing elsewhere, as all the other teams are demanding that West bring money to a ride, and West cannot afford to do that.

Ant West is another rider in a long list who are having problems finding sponsorship to pay for rides. In recent weeks, former 125cc Grand Prix winner Sergio Gadea has announced that he has been unable to find the money to race in 2012, and former BQR Moto2 rider Yonny Hernandez has also failed to find the money to race with the same team in MotoGP aboard the team's FTR Kawasaki CRT bike. Even former MotoGP winner Chris Vermeulen has found it impossible to find a ride, although a couple of years struggling with injury has worked against the Australian. A glance down the entry lists of several of the World Championship classes reveals a number of riders who appear to be selected for their ability to pay over their speed on the track, though basic entry requirements remain in place to prevent standards from slipping too low, and the 107% qualification rule remains set in stone.

West's inability to pay is likely to be seized upon by opponents of the CRT rules as a sign that they have failed. However, even if both West and Hernandez are forced to withdraw without replacements, the 2012 MotoGP grid will still be at 19, two more than in 2011. With the number of factory prototypes (factory bikes plus satellite machines) at a historic low of just 12 bikes, CRT is still the only guarantee of having sufficient bikes on the grid to organize a racing series worthy of the title World Championship.

One suggestion that has been made by some paddock insiders is that Dorna step up and bear some of the cost during this transitional period. For half a million euros, Dorna could ensure that the MotoGP grid remains at a healthy-looking 21 strong. The fear of setting such a precedent may be what is preventing them from doing so.

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The pedals fall from the rose already...I realize that West and Hernandez are not necessarily sharp end GP riders, but so much for a "healthy grid".

Dorna has helped satellite-bike riders in the past so why not with the CRTs? Carmelo should consider helping the riders in these difficult times for the sakes of everyone including the fans. I was wondering what Chris Vermeulen was doing for 2012... this is sad news. CV just can't catch a break. Where did it all go wrong for him?

re: "CV just can't catch a break. Where did it all go wrong for him?"

it all went wrong the instant he chose to put his faith in suzuki contrary to what i instructed back in '05. he had momentum with honda, but just had to reach out for that "brass ring".

Sad to read that he can't even afford to ride for free :(
All the best to Ant for future. Hope he comes back.

Long shot thought: Iannone would have to step up if Speed Master team doesn't get a replacement rider?

The CRT concept is sound, but if Carmelo wants it to go off without a hitch, he's going to have to dig deep into his own pockets and really help out. A rider like Ant West, though not an "alien" by any means, should be on the grid. His experience in GP's alone should warrant that. In fact, any rider who makes the 107% should be there.

The current state of racing is scary to say the least. There are sooo many riders who would willingly risk their lives and ride for free an entire season, but PAY to ride? Excuse me Mr. Team owner, but if you need your own riders to pay a quarter million to have your team work, then obviously you are the one who doesn't have enough money to play ball...

When all the people in the world who love MotoGP, but can't afford the 100 Euros a year (I believe that's the price now?) to subscribe online, can't even follow their favorite sport on YouTube for pete's sake, then who is the sport really appealing to?!? Want to create a following in the east? Make our sport accessible FOR FREE. Once the people are tuned in, the sponsors will willingly put out the cash. All they are asking for is an audience.

You know why soccer is so popular Carmelo? It's because it doesn't charge it's own fans for the right to watch it. Please take note sir 'cause you are doing this wrong.

re: "Make our sport accessible FOR FREE."

sorry, nothing in a sport as simultaneously fantastic and dangerous as ours should ever be "FREE". never not ever...! that's a "theif mentality" brought to us courtesy of the internet and worse, represents hitchhiking on the backs of dead riders.

re: "You know why soccer is so popular Carmelo? It's because it doesn't charge it's own fans for the right to watch it."

no, it's popular because the 95-97% majority can easily relate to it by just picking up a ball. in contrast, motorcycling is HARD, takes actual talent (lest you get killed), and requires a substantial cash investment in order to participate. because of this, our numbers will never be more than 3-5% of the population. i mean how can it when we all know people who have NO business going within 10ft. of a motorbike...?

This is just like the old 500cc days, Niall Mackenzie had his best 500 season on the RGV Suzuki and was replaced by Didier de Radigues who brought in a shedload of cash

I cant recall who said it, ( Rainey/Roberts maybe?) but a US team owner once told his sponsor " do you want fast riders or rich riders?"

It appears that MGP wants rich riders..........

I also wasnt to add that i dont think West of Yonny would ever win a race, but if it rained a podium is a possibility!

One part of the Italian media is reporting that Mattia Pasini could take West's ride at Speed Master, while another section is reporting that Pasini will be riding for the SAG team. More when we get it.

Wasn't Pasini another guy on the "Currently Looking for Cash" list?

I've always been a fan of his, since his 125 days...when everyone said his arm would restrict him to the smallest class. Now, if he can only keep it on two wheels consistently.

Where does all the money go that is collected at the gate? I don't have any idea how that works, but it would make perfect sense to me that some of that money be divided up amongst the riders and teams. Maybe it already is, I don't know. Do the riders still get appearance money?

In the back pockets of scumbags like Ezpeleta and his cronies
( here is an example of his " cost cutting "measures, I am surprised there hasn't been an outcry about this... )

and parasites like Eric Trytko...

who " attach " themselves to a team in the guise of " producing a media image that will be appealing to sponsors and bringing in the dollars "........yeah right, I've got this bridge for sale................the best exposure is being sucessful and that will never happen as long as a disproportionate percentage of $$ are squandered on expenses ( media/PR parasites et al ) unrelated to making the bike and rider faster.

As so correctly pointed out by rick650

Who are the Sponsors?
Submitted by rick650 on Sat, 2012-01-28 07:10.

I play a game of trying to associate a product or brand with the graphics on the bikes. Too often I am totally unable to do so which means that the marketing dollars invested have zero penetration for me.
I live in the more isolated Australian economy which helps explain this and also underlines why it is hard for West and other Australian riders to get local sponsorship dollars.

Who & WTF are most of these companies emblazoned on the bikes ( not only a question in Oz either ), most fairings look like a beginning graffiti artists failed efforts.

Until Moto GP cuts it's ties with the Spanish bloodsuckers, it will only continue to degenerate. Ecclestone is not a saint but he's at least created a recognized global entity that pays its players.

re: "In the back pockets of scumbags like Ezpeleta and his cronies. here is an example of his " cost cutting "measures, I am surprised there hasn't been an outcry about this."

i will refrain from condeming ezpelata at this time until i he answers... Why...?
there may in fact be a good reason (or not), but once we have that good reason,
the lack of paddock access for moto 2 & 3 becomes a non-topic.

I want to know:
is there are lack of new people wanting to advertise their product/service?
is there a lack of perceived value in advertising with a MotoGP team?
perhaps both.

Can folks help run the cost/benefits with me?

What is the estimated cost of running a CRT Team for 2012?

What is the market that Dorna is claiming their race series provides participants?

Can someone say what the asking cost of sticker on a MotoGP and CRT bike is?
What do riders ask for wearing a patch or a specific hat around the paddock?

If it is not clear what their cost is, how can new advertisers easily enter the marketplace to benefit from associating their brand with moto racing?

In an effort to do my part to add new money to the sport, I will pay Yamaha Factory Racing, or SpeedMaster, five euro's to run a large MotoMatters sticker this season as their title sponsor if they have not found someone else to put a sticker there. Post your reply below accepting my simple terms. (hey, David... is it O.K. to use your logo? ;-)

I play a game of trying to associate a product or brand with the graphics on the bikes. Too often I am totally unable to do so which means that the marketing dollars invested have zero penetration for me.
I live in the more isolated Australian economy which helps explain this and also underlines why it is hard for West and other Australian riders to get local sponsorship dollars.

Sad to see Westie fall by the wayside - and something which does not augur well for the future of newcomers who are not Spanish or Italian making a breakthrough in the series.

If someone with an established road racing record in 250, Moto2 and MotoGP (as well as the SBK/WSS paddock) cannot find funding in the blue riband class in an year where there is sure to be more interest (thanks to CRT introduction) then we are in trouble.

It may be argued that West may not have a long list of wins behind him - but then again we've had only 10 or so GP winners in the last 5 years, so that's hardly surprising - but he can bring with him experience, race craft and dare I say it, fantastic wet weather riding ability. Something any burgeoning CRT is going to need to get them up to speed.

There are plenty of gifted riders coming out of plenty of national champs across the globe, but realistically the chance of them getting a ride in MotoGP by the time they are 23-24 is getting more remote by the year if we're at a point where riders need to bring money with them. After all unless you're a nascent riding prodigy that's attracted national attention (or that of a major manufacturer) or you've got a pet sponsor in the shape of a multinational corporation, the chances of bringing the megabucks needed to land a competitive ride is fading fast.

Whether the lack of sponsorship issue is just purely down to the GFC or the fading appeal of MotoGP is hard to say. But Ren-Jr above is dead right - the only way for the MotoGP to bring in sponsors is to open itself up more and make coverage less restrictive.

Another issue I see is that motorcycling in general needs to be pushed more in national media in countries outside of Europe. Here in New Zealand our national super bike champs get minimal coverage in the sports news. Bruce Anstey wins at the TT and what coverage is there? Nothing. A couple of weeks ago we had a very serious accident at one of the NZSBK rounds (one rider in critical condition) and absolutely nothing in the news (not that I only want the sport to be covered when there's accidents of course, but I think it's a slight on all those who literally put their lives on the line when they race and get no recognition). And this is from a country that has produced some great racers down the years and a proud road racing tradition. Perhaps if more people were exposed to the skill, excitement and personalities that make the sport what it is then sponsorship might be more forthcoming?

So it will be sorry to see another antipodean bow out of GPs. Maybe he should change his name to Antonio Oeste to see if he'd get a foot in the door somewhere. If not, come and race in NZ, Westie. You may not get paid much, but being great in the wet you'd love the weather conditions....

re: "Perhaps if more people were exposed to the skill, excitement and personalities that make the sport what it is then sponsorship might be more forthcoming?"

let's be clear, the only thing that makes sponsorship more forthcoming is when the target audience actually PURCHASES whatever product or service the sponsor sells in sufficient enough quantity for them to see a return on investment. they can promote skill, excitement, and personalities till they're blue in the face... if the fan/consumer fails to follow through...? then none of that matters.

The difficulty is that MotoGP is a niche sport, so a company is only going to see a return on their sponsorship if they have an international market, or a big enough market in their home country. Company A in Australia, for example, is unlikely to sponsor an 18 round championship on the basis that a few thousand people watch the sport in Australia and might be persuaded to buy their product when they see it at the one Australian race. Company S in Spain has much better prospects. They have a larger population, motorcycling is much more popular, and there are 4 rounds in the country instead of one. Italy has a larger population still, motorcycling is almost as popular as in Spain, and they have 2 rounds.

Anyone surprised most of the sponsorship is Spanish or Italian?

The point re exposure is still good. Boost the popularity of the sport and the sponsorship follows because more of the population is aware of it and the marketing makes more sense. Stifle it and you'll never get the numbers and it will always struggle. Can you picture how different MotoGP would be if it was as popular as football (any variant), golf or even F1?

teams and sponsors. Get over the petty nationalistic bollocks. As Chris says if Westy was really good enough he would've done something by now. How did Stoner get where he is? It was far from some magic carpet ride, but he and his family made it happen through determination and talent.

The elite is the elite. There's always going to be far more dropping by the way side than those that cement themselves at the top. Westy is merely yet another dog that got eaten. It's not meant to be easy to get to the top.

I think Dorna intervention is almost guaranteed, and the depth of information surrounding Ant's tribulations, makes his announcement appear as a public appeal for assistance more than a retirement announcement. Ezpeleta has been adamant that CRT's must be on the pace in 2012 b/c they must prove their viability and strengthen his position in negotiations with the MSMA.

If competitive bikes are required, experienced GP riders with development abilities are critical. Given Edwards' bullish remarks on the future of CRT, I'd wager Dorna are supporting his efforts. Ezpeleta is probably cheering on Aspar and subsidizing DePuniet's (or is it Vickers he needs on camera :-P ) CRT bid. Getting Australians with GP experience into the CRT game would probably be a good investment. But with Vermeulen on the sideline, is Dorna really willing to invest in Ant? Imo, Ezpeleta would be wise to ensure that both of them participate, but I'm not Ezpeleta, and I've never heard anyone say that wisdom is Ezpeleta's dominant character-trait.

As someone who looks at these guys lifestyle from afar maybe I'm a bit unsympathetic, but what sponsor would WANT to associate with him?

Surrounded by the glitz and glamour of MotoGP he is the only rider whose interviews can reliably make a data entry processor working in a fluorescent-lit grey cubicle farm 3 floors below ground level glad they don't have Ant's job. For over a decade he's been depressing viewers worldwide with his interviews, always trotting out some new way that life has struck him down or what new malady has befallen his bike / team / star sign / etc. Obvious talent, but lacking the intelligence and/or drive to convert that talent into any form of lasting success.

He had several good opportunities and he failed to convert any of them.

I agree breganzane, Westy is not sponsorable. Amusing to the fans yes. Great talent in the wet yes. Disaster personified to both sponsors and team in any interview yes!

Sad news indeed. I was looking forward to the prospect of a rainy-day Westy podium or two.
Also very sad days for racing when money is more important to a team than speed. Although in some ways the income over pace paradigm has been in play for many years. One fast rider and one sponsor friendly rider in any team ticks all the boxes. I am thinking Ducati with Stoner and Hayden as a past great example of this situation. My apologies to the Hayden fans, but I think Nicky's best days are behind him. Interesting to look at the Yamaha works team at the moment, two superb racers and no sponsors. Who could Yamaha draft in to bring along some big sponsor interest? Could signing someone like Dani P next year bring Movistar back to MotoGP?
Farewell Westy and good luck with your future matey.

And even if money and nationality had something to do with it at least Pasini had 10 wins and a whole bunch of podiums. West didn't. Given a choice between an easily sponsorable racer with wins and podiums to his name versus a not-so-sponsorable racer with no wins and a rare podium, the choice is simple.

I despise the pay-to-ride concept but in this case maybe Pasini didn't being money but brought the ability to attract sponsors. It is a great attribute for a rider to have. Almost as good an attribute as winning but he did that from time to time too.

With all the aussie racers (and wrenches too) around I still don't see a race team with an aussie company as the title sponsor. That says a lot as to the value non-motorsports companies see in advertising in MotoGP.


Businesses in Oz still see Motorcycle racing as a marginal sport. How many Australian companies sponsor Casey? How can that be changed? Pasini is a great sponsorship-racer match and good luck to him.

re: "How can that be changed?"

the only thing that can change that 100% of the time, in 100% of the situations, with 100% efficacy is by fans coming off the dime. until such time we "complete the circuit" so to speak, all this talk of rules changes, pay to ride schemes, and chasing sponsorship etc. is a waste of time.

The last aussie-based GP team was Shell Advance, running NSR500V's with... Ant West on board - 2001.
Generally speaking, most motorsport money in Oz is absorbed by V8 Supercars. They undermine their own success - and motorsport nationally - by promoting once-a-year-use street circuits while all the old circuits fall by the wayside and are not replaced. National-level motorcyle racing is divided between two series in a pissing competition, meanwhile the biggest National-level motorcycle meeting in Oz is Historic racing - on this weekend at Phillip Island as it happens.

re: "I despise the pay-to-ride concept but in this case maybe Pasini didn't being money but brought the ability to attract sponsors."

i'm right there with ya on despising this PTR nonsense. this is nothing more than a "robbing peter to pay pay paul" kind of PONZI SCHEME. i belive pasini IS paying for his ride same as westy was asked to do. the fact that we haven't been given confirmation one way or the other makes me think this is a topic they want to go away. it's an economic indicator that MotoGp isn't just "failing"...? but has in fact FAILED...! and this some time ago.

re: " That says a lot as to the value non-motorsports companies see in advertising in MotoGP."

it says even MORE about the inherently niche business that is motorcycling. there is little value in targeting a mere 3-5% of population. even LESS value when economic data on the spending habits of that same 3-5% shows us to be piss poor consumers.

Yes indeed Pasini got a couple of wins in 250 but since the introduction of Moto2 he did absolutely nothing.
So far he failed to adapt to 4 strokes, which is a shame because he was a brilliant 2 strokes rider.

But judging by what they showed on 4 strokes or even ignoring West much larger experience on the matter (MotoGP, World Supersport) just looking at the past 2 seasons there is no way Pasini deserves this ride more than West.

West was on one of the worse-funded Moto2 teams, with their own MZ tubular frame and then an outdated 2010 FTR yet he consistently outpaced Pasini (who was on a great bike, his teammate Corsi finished 6th in the championship with the same bike!).

Why would Pasini get the bike over West, even though he was consistently the slower of the two these past two seasons (and West is one rare rider who actually already raced MotoGP on Bridgestone tires, an experience very valuable for CRT)?

Even more puzzling, why would Pasini get the MotoGP ride instead of his teammate Corsi (who holds the same passport for that matter) who scored 99 more points on the exact same bike last season?