The story we reported earlier, about Valentino Rossi obtaining Monster Energy sponsorship is better news than at first thought. The stories appearing in the Italian press all claimed that the money for Rossi's contract would be coming from the terminated contract of John Hopkins. But SpeedTV's Dennis Noyes is citing anonymous sources in Europe stating categorically that this is new money, and has nothing to do with Hopper's Monster Millions.
Of course, if there is one rider in the paddock who is swimming in personal sponsorship, it's Valentino Rossi, but nevertheless, more money coming into MotoGP is an important move. It is a sign that under the right conditions, there is enough money to invest in MotoGP, despite the general economic downturn.
Noyes also reports an interesting stumbling block: the biggest problem for Monster was Valentino Rossi's penchant for changing his helmet paint schemes. Monster needed guarantees that their green claw logo would remain clearly visible on the helmet, however The Doctor decided to paint it on any given week. With these guarantees now in place, the deal is ready to be announced this week.
Where this leaves John Hopkins is still a mystery. No news is forthcoming of where Hopkins might be racing in 2009, but his future in MotoGP is looking bleak. The BBC's Matt Roberts is reporting that if the Kawasakis are handed over to a private team, that team would be run by current Kawasaki team boss Michael Bartholemy and and Aspar boss Jorge Martinez. Martinez would supply a sponsor, and as a consequence, would get to run a Spanish rider - either Alex Debon, or according to some Spanish sources, Fonsi Nieto - alongside Marco Melandri, who is more saleable to Southern European sponsors. This would leave Hopper out of a Kawasaki ride, and most likely, out of MotoGP. Hopkins may get to hang on to his Monster Millions, but he wouldn't have anywhere to display them.