Monster Energy will sponsor the Team Graves Yamaha in 2011, the team revealed, by listing Monster Energy first on the sponsor list for Josh Hayes' entry in the season-opening Daytona American SuperBike race.That the energy drink had taken their money from the M4 Suzuki team and given it to Yamaha had been widely known in the racing community for a few months, but a code of silence was honored. It was believed that the announcement might be made at the February 18-20 Dealernews International Powersports Dealer Expo in Indianapolis, aka the Indy show, and it may well be, officially, but by listing Monster Energy as the number one sponsor, Yamaha inadvertently outed themselves.Still, the deal makes sense for both sides. Monster gets the instant cache and exposure of being on the number ‘1' Superbike of Josh Hayes and Yamaha gets an always welcome cash infusion, along with the increasingly powerful Monster marketing machine. A depressed sales market forced the team to make severe personnel cutbacks before the start of last season, and Yamaha farmed the Superbike team out to Chuck Graves, who already had the responsibility of the Daytona SportBike team.Monster Energy sponsors the Tech 3 Yamaha MotoGP team and was a personal sponsor of Valentino Rossi when he rode the Fiat Yamaha last year. In an unprecedented move, Rossi was able to keep the Monster sponsorship at Ducati. (Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden had to forego their Red Bull sponsorship when they joined the team). Rossi's deal is said to be in the neighborhood of $7 million, though the number is impossible to confirm. Regardless, the exposure he gives them is second to none. During this week's Wrooom 2011, the annual press/ski event where the Ducati and Ferrari teams are traditionally introduced, Rossi was the center of attention, despite sharing the week with Formula One drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa. Rossi was accorded rock star status, with news of his whereabouts instantly drawing crowds. And those crowds, and the assembled media, rarely saw Rossi without either a Monster baseball cap or ski hat. Monster also has prominent placement on the chin piece of his AGV helmet and on both sides of the faceshield at the pivot point.Yamaha is the third manufacturer in three years to wear the green and black Monster colors in AMA racing. Kawasaki's 2009 Daytona SportBike team, run by Attack Racing, was Monster-backed. And last year, Monster sponsored M4 Suzuki. Colombian Martin Cardenas rewarded Monster and M4 Suzuki with the Daytona SportBike championship. Had they chosen to stay with M4 Suzuki, Monster would still have had a number ‘1' machine, but being in the Superbike class gives them more exposure, except at Daytona, where the smaller bikes still race in the 200.Cardenas is listed on the Superbike entry list and will be making his Superbike debut when he tests the M4 Suzuki GSX-R1000 at this week's all-teams test at Daytona International Speedway.John Hopkins, who rode for the Monster M4 Suzuki team in 2010, said recently that his relationship with the team had gone sour and that there was no chance he would be back in 2011. He and his management talked to Eraldo Ferracci and Celtic Racing's Barry Gilsanen about a possible Ducati Superbike ride, but Hopkins said that Monster wasn't interested in the deal. Hopkins is expected to race a Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 in the British Superbike Championship in 2011.In addition to Monster Energy, Hayes' entry sponsor list includes Yamaha, Graves Motorsports, Yamalube, Vortex, Dunlop, Sharkskinz, Braking, OZ, Dyno-Jet, Magneti Marelli, DID, GYT-R, Mechanix Wear, DT1, and JE Pistons.

 



AMA Pro Racing Headlines

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.

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