If that title didn’t illicit a “huh?” from you, then let us be the first to say the MotoGP rumormill has kicked it up a notch now that we’re about a third of the way through the 2009 season. The first rumor up to bat is the talk that Red Bull, the maker of the energy drink with wings, is looking to sponsor a MotoGP team. Early speculation places Red Bull flying into premiere motorcycle racing with the factory Honda team, which is currently Repsol Honda.
That brings us to our next rumor in this double-header, Repsol is rumored to be considering a move to Yamaha next year. Displeased with the performance Honda has given them in bringing a Spanish MotoGP Champion into fruition, the Spanish Oil company is looking for new tune at the Piano making company. More bizzaro after the jump.
Making connections between Red Bull and a MotoGP team is an easy feat to do. Competitor, Monster Energy Drink, has already drawn first blood in the MotoGP series, sponsoring first John Hopkins, then the Kawasaki MotoGP team, and then this year, the Tech 3 Yamaha team and Valentino Rossi. Monster is reportedly paying over $3 million for the right to appear on the chin bar and side of Rossi’s helmet, and on Rossi’s cap. Red Bull in turn sponsors both the US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca and the Indianapolis Grand Prix, riders including Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso, the KTM 125cc team, and the Red Bull Rookies Cup.
Looking to raise its involvement further, as Monster has done, Red Bull is looking for a team to sponsor. Earlier reports indicate that the Austrian company has already talked with Ducati, first as a factory sponsor, and then as a sponsor to the Pramac team. After that deal failed due to who would control picking the team’s manager, Red Bull has started its hunt anew.
Opportunistically, Repsol is rumored to be upset with the way Honda has progressed over the past few seasons, and is looking to leave the company that makes cars and generators for Yamaha. This move would then allow Red Bull to sweep into Honda, where Pedrosa & Dovizioso already reside, thus consolidating its sponsorship effort.
Keen to keep Pedrosa on-board for a new contract, Honda has been doing something very un-Honda like, blaming the bike, not the rider, for poor performance. Part of the motivation for this, besides keeping a talent like Dani around the Honda paddock, is also because of the pressure marquis sponsor Repsol has over the Honda factory team. Repsol has helped fund one of the largest budgets in MotoGP, in the hopes that a Spanish MotoGP Champion will emerge.
The hopes for that outcome have been squarely settled on Dani Pedrosa’s shoulders, but Repsol surely must be noticing the stellar seasons the other Spaniard, Jorge Lorezno, has been having while at Fiat Yamaha. Repsol would love to get some of that action, and had flat out admitted it is not in any rush to sign up again with Honda.
Surely a public statement like this has its negotiating value, but could there be some truth behind that threat? Honda will certainly have to treat it as such, that is of course unless someone like Red Bull can continue footing the very large check Repsol has been willing to cut since the start of the 990cc days. The fact that Fiat’s partnership expires with Yamaha at the end of this year, doesn’t help the chances that Repsol might be able to jump ship.