Rossi To Take Hopper's Monster Sponsorship?

Amidst the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the cost of MotoGP, there is still the odd bright light shining the way forward. Last week, we reported on two sponsorship deals for Ducati, boosting the income for the Italian factory, and now, another substantial MotoGP sponsorship deal has been done.

For the Italian sports paper Tuttosport is reporting that Monster Energy will be paying Valentino Rossi 2.5 million euros for the next two years to wear the green claw M on his helmet and on the caps he wears, with another half a million available as a performance bonus for winning another championship.

That was the good news. The bad news is that this is probably not new money. Instead, it looks like this could be the result of Monster dropping the currently unemployed John Hopkins (who was on a multi-million dollar deal with Monster), and switching to a man with a proven record of winning. And of course, sponsoring Valentino Rossi is a no-brainer. Thanks to his sponsorship by Italian beer maker Nastro Azzurro, millions of Northern Europeans are now aware of the brand and buying the beer.

The switch by Monster may also point to further bad news for Kawasaki. MotoGP is now the second sport where Monster has backed Yamaha, with the Rinaldi World MX1 team featuring David Philippaerts and Joshua Coppins also racing Yamahas in Monster colors. The original Monster deal with Kawasaki had a clause allowing Monster to move up to being title sponsor of the MotoGP team in 2009, and that deal will obviously have fallen through.

With Yamaha cozying up to Monster, there is a possibility that that sponsorship could go to Yamaha instead. The most likely destination for such money would be the Tech 3 Yamaha team, which is still without major funding, and for who a big sponsor would be welcome. And as Colin Edwards finished on the podium twice last year, and James Toseland entering his second year in MotoGP after a fairly successful debut, the chances of results look promising.

An official announcement of the deal is expected soon, possibly as early as later this week.

Back to top



I am no Rossi hater, nor an Hopkins/Kawasaki see Monster switching its sponsorship to Rossi/Yamaha in a positive light demonstrates myopia.

How can the final nail in Hopkins/Kawasaki's coffin be viewed as anything but a disaster? Rossi needs an extra 2.5euro like I need a 3rd testicle; he'll probably just give it to the Italian gov't anyway (sorry).

What marketability does Hopkins now have now with the loss of his "seed" money? What next...Repsol switching to Rossi? How about have EVERY sponsor going to Rossi, afterall what better chance of exposure could you possibly ask for? Problem is..then you'll ONLY have Rossi doing demonstration laps...BY HIMSELF!!

Seeing the Monster money go to Rossi does have some good points. For a start, Monster could have just pulled out altogether, and left MotoGP. They didn't. They stayed in, and it's possible they could expand sponsorship, as they were planning to when they signed with Kawasaki in 2008.

You're absolutely right that Rossi is the last rider to need more sponsorship. However, the idea is that sponsorshp breeds more sponsorship. Other energy drink makers (apart from Red Bull, of course, which is already in) may feel obliged to get their name in front of MotoGP audiences as well, and sponsor Rossi's rivals. But the most important fact is that it demonstrates that MotoGP is still a viable option for advertisers wishing to reach a large, global audience.

Of course it's sad for Hopper and Kawasaki, but Kawasaki has no one but themselves to blame, and Hopper did himself no favors in 2008 either. That's the (very) high price of failure, I'm afraid. 

this is exactly what i was worried about a few weeks ago when the monster money was being bandied around by hopper's agent as if it were attached to john's wrist with a set of handcuffs that someone lost the keys to.

losing hopper from the championship will be a shame, but one has to be realistic. he's been in the sport since 2002, a year longer than melandri and hayden and just 2 less than valentino rossi. he was only 19 years old and headed directly to the top class after considerable AMA success (and probably a very bright future).

he did have a really good 2007, finishing 4th overall in the championship but frankly i see him as being a wasted talent.

the move to kawasaki was a horrible decision and was such even without the benefit of hindsight (who remembers scratching their head at the end of 2007 about that one?); suzuki was really getting their shit together and have been spanking the green machines since 2006. so when he peaked, he shopped himself around, probably got a better salary and moved to the kwak. he chose the money over the bike/team and in the end he's lost both.

he's had two opportunities, imho, to reap racing pinnacles in his career, and he blew both in exchange for glamour and $$$s. had he stayed in the AMA a few more years he may have become a legend. had he gone to the 250 gp series instead of direct to motogp he may have been a world champion by 2003. gotten onto a honda or a yamaha or a ducati motogp bike by 2004. and to leave suzuki when they were just hitting their stride shows that john has lost the drive to win a championship. his interest lies in his salary, the glamourous lifestyle, and achievement in motorcycle racing is not his top priority anymore. at least melandri had a genuine reason to join kawasaki: access to a factory machine (of his 5 seasons in motogp, only 1 was spent riding a factory machine - his disastrous 2008 season)

so would hopper be the ideal guy you want representing your product when there's so much hungry talent out there?


I fail to see that Hopkins had any 'marketability' with or without Monsters money..he never won anything.
He was just an American rider with a hot girlfriend and big $$ sponsor. How he continues to wrangle big money salaries and sponsors is beyond me.He's always seemed to get more props than Hayden who while not exactly setting the world on fire has managed three wins and a world title. And anyone that thinks Hopkins was/would be a contender on a Honda etc...please....everyone that follows American racing knows that Hayden was always better than Hopkins. If Monster is going to put some money in the sport elsewhere thats great. Hoppers free ride is over and he should be grateful he got so rich when he did while really accomplishing nothing.

"Hoppers free ride is over and he should be grateful he got so rich when he did while really accomplishing nothing..."  is not entirely accurate.

If you are suggesting that anyone could ride any MotoGP bike with success equal to his, you would be terribly mistaken.  None of his, presumably, "better" and more experienced teammates were able to make those Suzukis perform any better than he was.

Marketing is a different issue.  If Monster believed that Kawasaki were going to produce an '08 bike that showed continued improvements from the '07 bike, putting that money on Hopkins was probably a good idea, with a 2nd US race appearing on the schedule. 

If it were up to me, I would have Monster wanting to get him on a decent bike to still make good on the investment.  And, if I were Hopper and would rather compete than count money in my living room, I would use some of that purported "riches" to subsidize my own way on to a good team if I had to.

I disagree with you...  if on decent equipment, he would be (and would have been) a contender for podium positions, as long as he can stay out of the Clinica Mobile.