Thursday, July 12, 2007

MotoGP: Hopper Turns Into Green Monster

As has been reported just about everywhere, John Hopkins will ditch Rizla Suzuki at the end of the year and ride for Kawasaki in 2008. MCN reports that Hopper's wage demands were around the $5 million mark, which Suzuki were not prepared to pay, preferring to draft in another rider.
Rumour has it that the Kawasaki deal is being financed by Hopkins' personal sponsor, Monster Energy. This is an energy drink similar to Red Bull, with tons of caffeine, vitamins and other hocus-pocus energy ingredients, and it is being aggressively marketed in the US to extreme sports fans in much the same way as its rival. Monster currently sponsors American sportsmen throughout motorsport, from Motocross to Champcar, along with heavy metal festival Ozzfest and even skateboarder Jason Acuna, better known as Wee Man from Jackass. The Kawasaki linkup has been rumoured for a while, since Monster Energy sponsors the Kawasaki team in AMA Superbike and SuperSport.
Ironically, the Suzuki team is sponsored by Rizla in both MotoGP and British Superbike. The difference is that Rizla is a small manufacturer of cigarette papers, whereas Monster Energy is a subdivision of Hansen Natural Corporation, with is the up and coming beverage company in the United States, with a turnover of $600 million last year, and growing fast.
Hansen Natural Corp can afford to throw large amounts of money at their Monster Energy brand in an effort to catch up with Red Bull, also helped by the fact that Red Bull sells in stupid teeny-tiny cans at high cost, whereas Monster is cheaper and sells in various sizes up to a huge, resealable can of more than 700ml. (I don't know about you, but I wouldn't sleep for a year if I drank that much caffeine in one go!)
This makes it likely that Monster Energy will be the title sponsor for Kawasaki in 2008. The green team currently don't have a title sponsor, meaning that rider wages must effectively be paid from the marketing budget of the parent company. It is probable that Monster will pay Hopper's entire monstrous wage bill, along with some of the team's racing budget.
This makes it more likely that Kawasaki may run a 3rd bike next year as has been rumoured. With Hopper bringing his Monster Energy sponsorship, Kwaka would effectively be getting the Californian's services for free. This means that if they capture Loris Capirossi's signature as seems likely, they should still have enough funds to pay for a 3rd bike for the much cheaper Randy de Puniet. (Cheaper wages, that is. The accident repair costs must be scary!)
Of course, this is just speculation. The only thing that has been confirmed is that John Hopkins will ride for Kawasaki next year. The MotoGP Kawasaki is said to be a winning machine looking for a winning rider, and the prospect of having three of them on track next year is pretty tasty.


Alessandro Matteucci aka Alex 555 said...

btwy, Randy crashed even today during qualification .... he is definitely a monster in crashing as Stoner up to last year

Jimmy said...

Yes, but can de Puniet stop crashing like Stoner has this year? Hmmm...