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Game Changer? Red Bull Signs on as Title Sponsor for Honda WSB Effort

Ronald ten Kate may be a genius when it comes to tuning race bikes and winning championships, but it helps to have a deep pocket behind you, and last year ten Kate went it alone with no primary sponsor.  That just changed … big time!

Whether it is F1 or any other racing, Red Bull wants to be on top. With the introduction of the entirely new Honda CBR1000RR SP2, Red Bull has decided it is time to join the WSB show with the ten Kate Honda team and its riders, Nicky Hayden (former MotoGP champ) and Stefan Bradl (former Moto2 champ). The team has only had the new bike a short time, but at the first test it was immediately making more power than last year’s dated machine. We shall see what the Red Bull Honda WSB team can do this year. Here is a short press release and comments from Ronald ten Kate:

The famous Hangar-7 facility in Salzburg, Austria, provided the stunning backdrop for the unveiling of the Red Bull Honda World Superbike team, which will charge into the 2017 WorldSBK season with Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl riding the brand-new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2.

Centre stage were the two riders and their machines sporting the world-famous Red Bull logo and colours. Representatives from the international media, Honda Motor Europe, sponsors, technical partners and WorldSBK organiser Dorna attended the much-anticipated event which heralded an exciting collaboration between Honda and Red Bull.

The event was watched live by fans and motorsport enthusiasts around the world, who tuned in to the action via the new website and the HondaProRacing Facebook Page.

Red Bull, the world’s leading energy drink company and for decades a key player in motorsports and action-sports, now enters the World Superbike paddock for the first time as a team title partner.

Taking the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team colours to the track on board the all-new 2017 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 machine will be the World Champion duo of Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl.

Crowned MotoGP™ World Champion in 2006 with Honda when he was in the Red Bull stable, Hayden had a very positive rookie WorldSBK season last year, with one race win and four podium finishes. Stefan Bradl, Moto2 World Champion in 2011 and long-time Red Bull athlete, has already shown great speed during winter testing on the Fireblade, and is now looking forward to this exciting new challenge.

Ronald ten Kate

Honda WorldSBK team manager

We are all very excited about our new venture as the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team. The start of the season in Australia is just around the corner and we are working extremely hard to be ready for the racing debut of the all-new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2. The bike is a welcome arrival and a big step forward in terms of performance potential. Although it’s still early days, we have a full-scale plan of development in order to get it to the front. Nicky and Stefan are two of the best riders in the world and I’m sure they will extract the maximum from it!




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  1. Zoiezoiekitty says:

    It is great to see that kind of Sponsorship make its way into WSBK. What an excellent match for all parties including the riders.

  2. goneorange says:

    Redbull is a GREAT sponsor for this ! The readership on MCD skews old and slow, so the ‘meh’ comments seem pretty expected. I am one of you ‘olds’ but employ forty people under 30 out of sixty-five staff and I am the oldest person at the company, ancient at 45. Our company Redbull consumption is somewhere in the 40 case per week range.

  3. Allison says:

    Hmmm, I’m having flashbacks to 2012, when Audi bought Ducati. They started winning immediately with that pocketbook, been 4 straight years of title after title for them (just like everyone predicted). If ten Kate does better this year, it will be because they had a better bike to build from. I really think Nicky still has what it takes, he proved that last year, he ran with Sykes and Rea many times in the dry, at least for a while. He surprised me, I was afraid he was gonna embarrass himself, a very gutsy move to go to WSB, especially jumping on that bike. I hope they can sort it out quickly, but that’s a tall order in WSB. The Pani was a mess its first year, only now is the bike finally poised to take a title. Look how long Sykes worked out the Zed X-10, if Nick runs top 5 throughout the year, and a few wins (in the dry), I’ll consider it a huge success. But a title would be sweet! OK, I’m gettin a little greedy now.

  4. Provologna says:

    Best wishes to Honda’s WSBK campaign.

    Definitely not liking the RB graphics. If that looks like a red bull, I look like Twiggy, and believe me, I don’t!

  5. MotoMaster39 says:

    Usually they just sponsor the rider and not the whole team. Red Bull Renault and Red Bull KTM being the other exceptions. They must have waaay more Benjamins to throw at that engine now.. I think the Ten Kate graphics looked a lot better than the raging, taurine bull though.

    I’m guessing this is a response to Monster becoming the tittle sponsor to Nascar, and or the F1 circuis being dominated by Mercedes the last few years.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Red Bull Renault and Red Bull KTM being the other exceptions.”

      see entry for John Reynolds Redbull Ducati, see entry for Gazza, Haga, Laconi Redbull Yamaha.

      oops sorry, i’m an O.G.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “They must have waaay more Benjamins to throw at that engine”

      as the wise men say “it’s all about the Benjamins”…? well innit…? no wait, that was another one of those rap guys me thinks.

  6. Trent says:

    Great news. Genius. Though I personally don’t drink the stuff.

  7. Vrooom says:

    I don’t see them getting through Rea, Sykes and Davies, but might make it more exciting.

  8. Norm G. says:

    FISTPUMP…!!! (in the general direction of Dirck and co.)

  9. Randy D. says:

    The way things were starting out this race season, I started to wonder if Honda was even serious to try to win some WSBK races this year. They have 2 top riders lined up but I didn’t see much back-up to give them a chance to excel. Now I can see what was missing is in the big picture. Looking forward to seeing some more competition to Kawasaki and Ducati riders for the 2017 Superbike Championship.

    Too bad if Yamaha doesn’t get competitive this year too like they are in the USA Superbike races where they’ve dominated for multiple years. 2017 WSBK might be as exciting as Moto GP this time around.

  10. Gutterslob says:

    What’s with all the rappers in the comments?

  11. Stuki Moi says:

    How much money is it humanly possible to make, from hawking nasty tasting goop to high strung millennials? These guys (Red Bull) sponsor leading teams in virtually every high buck sport this side of polo. Don’t they ever run out of funds?

    • Dave says:

      Google “Red Bull Hangar-7” and take a gander at that place. Apparently they sell a lot of it. Doesn’t hurt that it’s 4x as expensive as beer.

    • Scott says:

      As a race fan, I’m more than happy that a company is willing to put so much money and effort into so many different forms of motorsport. It used to be Marlboro taking that role, but I’ll take an energy drink over a cigarette any day…

    • Tom R says:

      Yes it seems to always have been tobacco, beer, or “energy” concoctions that sponsor motorcycle racing. Most fans probably just don’t identify with kale or soymilk products.

    • Gutterslob says:

      Oh, they sell it by the truckloads, trust me. You know all those nightclubs and rave festivals kids go to. They order Red Bull instead of beer these days. Supposedly works better with the pills they pop.

  12. Jeremy in TX says:

    I hope it performs as well as it looks.

    • Norm G. says:

      (WARNING: kids don’t try this at home or in the single race format of MotoGP)

      World “soup” is featuring a partial reverse grid for Race 2 this year. last I read all anyone needs is to bag a P3 in the first race to then start the second race from…

      aw shucks, just read it for yourselves…

      • VLJ says:

        This is beyond retarded. It punishes excellence.

        More “Hey, let’s just give everyone a trophy!” snowflake thinking. Brilliant.

        • PatrickD says:

          Don’t be silly. The idea of someone being punished for success is hysterical. Points are all important to riders, so they’ll finish as high as they can. This isn’t F1, and so a faster rider can find a way past.

          It’s certainly true that the races in WSB have been quite dull in recent years, and the guy having a good weekend often clears off without any interaction with other riders. Hardly condusive to fans or sport promotion.
          Nicky Hayden thinks the proposal is worth exploring, so maybe you should thnk about that beforef firing off cliches.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “This is beyond retarded.”

          no worries.

          re: “It punishes excellence.”

          no free lunch, it promotes sponsorship and investment, the LIFE BLOOD of any team owner.

          if you think big money RedBull just suddenly showed up “out of the blue” (pun intended) you’ve got another thought coming. their presence is a DIRECT by-product of this rule change, and another thing you can be sure of, this deal wasn’t put together last minute over a pint. no, it had been in the works for a season or 3.

          in fact, I contend this is the “tail wagging the dog”. the willingness/unwillingness of Mateschitz to commit larger funding to the series was the likely DRIVER (another pun intended) for the rule change, not the other way around.

      • Scott says:

        And if this doesn’t prove “exciting” enough, they have an even better plan for next year:

        The podium finishers from Race 1 will start 100 meters behind the entire grid for Race 2… BUT, they will be given a 2-second head start before the green flag drops! This should REALLY make things exciting! Lets see how big of a pile up we can create in the first turn! Woo- hoo…

      • jimmihaffa says:

        Obviously they’re grasping at straws in an effort to make the race series less predictable. Rather than attempting to handicap the field, I would rather they expanded the number of bike entries. This could potentially make passes rather than outright pace the determinant of outcomes. Neither is really desirable, but this would seem like the lesser of two evils to me.

  13. highspeedhamish says:

    The Honda should run and cower
    Because the bike is down on power
    Leave the series and save some face
    Before you end up in last place

    • MGNorge says:

      “because the bike is down on power” How do we know that?

    • Dave says:

      They won and scored several top-5’s with the old bike and no title sponsor. With Red Bull there will likely also be a level of HRC support. It stands to reason they’ll do better this year.

  14. jimmihaffa says:

    Cause we all just wanna be big rock stars
    Riding Red Bull Hondas built by fifteen techs
    The girls come easy and the race wins come cheap
    We’ll all stay winners cause we’ll halt Kawi’s three-peat

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