Red Bull is to make its long awaited return to sponsoring a team in the MotoGP class. The Austrian energy drink giant has announced that they will expand their sponsorship of the Repsol Honda team for 2015 and 2016, with the Red Bull logo appearing on the team's Honda RC213V machines for the first time.
The move is a major step forward for Red Bull. The energy drink firm withdrew from the premier class in 2002, at the start of the MotoGP era, after having sponsored the WCM team, then racing Yamaha YZR-500s as the Red Bull Yamaha team. Since then, Red Bull's strategy has been focused on individual riders rather than teams, with its focus switched to Honda. Red Bull backed Dani Pedrosa, Marc Marquez, Stefan Bradl, and when they were at HRC, Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden. The Austrian energy drink logo had appeared on the LCR Honda machine at some of the US rounds of MotoGP, but so far, they had held off on backing a team full time.
That is set to change, with the stickers set to appear on the Repsol Honda machines. The move had been presaged by the increasing role Red Bull have played in helping promote the Repsol Honda team. The most prominent example was last year, when the company covered the costs of the Repsol Honda team's test at Austin early in the season, using that test as an opportunity to produce large amounts of promotional material, including online videos. Normally, teams have to purchase such material from Dorna for a sizeable fee, which then comes with severe restrictions on usage. With both Pedrosa and Marquez long-time Red Bull sponsored riders, the move to backing the team was a logical one. It was a move which HRC Team Principal Livio Suppo had been pushing for for a very long time.
The move also allows Red Bull to take on their competitors more directly. Monster has backed both the factory Yamaha team and the Tech 3 satellite Yamaha team, as well as supporting the French Grand Prix at Le Mans. Malaysian brand Drive M7 has also stepped up to back the Aspar team this season. Putting the Red Bull logo on the Repsol Honda bikes gives the brand more prominence, and also fits with the company's strategy of getting behind winners.
Below is the press release issued by HRC announcing the deal:
Honda Racing Corporation increase partnership with Red Bull
HRC are pleased to announce an evolution in their partnership with Austrian-based energy drink manufacturer, Red Bull.
After nine years of cooperation with the Repsol Honda Team and its riders – starting with Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa in 2006 – from next season the Red Bull logo will also feature for the first time on the Honda RC213V machines of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, and Red Bull will become the Official Energy Drink partner of the Repsol Honda Team, for the next 2 years, until the end of 2016.
Since the collaboration began the Repsol Honda Team and Red Bull have celebrated a total of 58 wins, 172 podiums, 63 pole positions, 73 fastest laps, three rider’s World Championships and four Constructor’s Championships.
HRC Executive Vice President
"We are delighted to have the opportunity to grow our partnership with Red Bull. It is an iconic global brand with whom we've worked alongside for nine years, so this was the logical next step. I'm sure that this new partnership will increase our visibility, not only as Honda, but also MotoGP on a whole to a wider global audience, which can only be good for the sport"