Saturday, March 2, 2024

Hero MotoSports acquires Monster Energy backing

Monster Energy and Hero MotoSports have joined forces for the 2024 Dakar Rally and World Rally-Raid Championship, both parties announced Wednesday. The team will be Monster’s second in the top-level RallyGP bike category alongside Monster Energy Honda Rally Team.

“We are super pumped and proud to team up with Monster Energy,” reads a team statement. “It’s a brand-new chapter for us, and we’re beyond excited to rev up the adventure together. This partnership symbolises our commitment to pushing the boundaries, taking on bigger challenges, and racing the limits.”

Hero, the only Indian factory team in RallyGP, fielded two bikes in the 2023 championship for Ross Branch and Sebastian Bühler. Branch placed fourth in points with a best finish of fourth at the Desafío Ruta 40 (third among W2RC competitors) and Rallye du Maroc, while also scoring three stage wins. Two of the wins came at the Dakar Rally, his first at the legendary race since 2020, while the third was in Morocco where he led the overall for the first half. Bühler’s season was plagued by mechanical failures that forced him to retire twice and he settled for eleventh in the standings.

Branch was already a Monster Energy athlete who previously competed for Yamaha’s Monster-backed programme before joining Hero for the 2022 season onwards. Joaquim Rodrigues also has Monster support; he broke his femur at Dakar that sidelined him for much of the season, followed by a shoulder injury in testing right before the finale in Morocco.

In adding Hero, Monster Energy is now on equal footing in RallyGP with rival Red Bull, who supports the KTM and GasGas factory teams.

While Hero has not revealed their 2024 lineup, Joan Barreda is expected to defect from Honda for Dakar. Barreda formerly raced for Monster Energy Honda Rally Team before becoming an independent rider at the 2023 Dakar Rally, though he still raced a Honda and has Monster support.

The 2024 season begins with the Dakar Rally on 5 January.