Red Bull Has Given Wings to Motorcycle Winners For Nearly 20 Years

Much is known about the Austrian energy drink brand, but how much do you know about its motorsports racing history?

marc marquez raises hands in motogp victory
Spain’s Marc Marquez pulled off a stunning victory at the end of MotoGP’s Round 10 in the Czech Republic on August 6, 2017.Courtesy of Repsol Honda Team/HRC

Following a five-week summer break, MotoGP racing returned with a bang in the Czech Republic this past weekend, as reigning world champion and current series leader Marc Marquez pulled yet another rabbit out of his hat with a canny bike-swap decision to take his third victory in 2017, 12 seconds ahead of Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa. The Red Bull-sponsored team was indeed given wings at the Brno circuit, as it puddle jumps to nearby Austria for Round 11 at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.

Not a company to rest on its laurels, Red Bull partnered with KTM to form the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team this season, signing former Yamaha Tech3 teammates Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith to commandeer the new orange and blue machines, building a MotoGP team from the ground up. A big ask in the multi-million world of grand prix motorcycle racing, but then again Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz didn't accumulate a net worth of $15.4 billion by sitting idly by.

pol espargaro motogp race action
Spain’s Pol Espargaro breaks in his new Red Bull KTM Factory Team Dainese leathers at the Losail circuit in Qatar in March 2017.Courtesy of Red Bull KTM Factory Team

Sixty-two billion cans of the popular blue and silver energy drink have been sold since the first was introduced in Austria on April 1, 1987. Today, Red Bull employs 11,865 people in 171 countries, selling more than six billion cans of Red Bull Energy Drink to fill company coffers with more than $7 billion. Seems natural to start a MotoGP team, eh?

First MotoGP Victory

In 1998, New Zealand 500c Grand Prix racer Simon Crafar stole the show on his Red Bull Yamaha at Donington Park, taking pole and the checkered flag ahead of the mighty Repsol Honda man Mick Doohan by 11 seconds. It was the first GP victory for the Austrian company.

simon crafar on 500cc gp podium
The 29-year-old Simon Crafar was jubilant on the 500cc GP podium ahead of Mick Doohan (left) in 1998.Simon Crafar archives

The age of Big Tobacco sponsorship was ending, opening the door for Red Bull and Monster to dominate. Other two-wheeled motorsport Red Bull milestones include:

  • 2010 was the most successful season ever for the Red Bull KTM Factory Motocross team. Italian Tony Cairoli secured the title in the MX1 class, Marvin Musquin obtained the MX2 world championship title and Steffi Laier was crowned Women's Motocross World Champion making the team unbeatable in the three most important motocross world championships.
  • Casey Stoner dominated the 2011 MotoGP world championship, winning 10 races, while failing to appear on the podium only once in 17 races. He started from pole 12 times and recorded seven fastest laps.
  • At 20 years, 266 days, Marc Marquez became the youngest-ever MotoGP world champion in 2013 after a phenomenal debut season drew to a close. The Spaniard went on to win the first 10 races in 2014; he repeated as world champion in 2014 and 2016.
  • Cyril Despres of France picked up his fifth Dakar trophy when he crossed the line of the 2013 edition of the world's most famous rally after more than 8,000 km

Last year Ducati teammates Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso took first and second at the newly reopened Red Bull Ring, where a reported 215,000 fans turned the event into a carnival. For the first time in history, an Austrian team, the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, will compete for glory. Whether or not Espargaro nor Smith reach the podium, you can bet there'll be plenty to celebrate in Fuschl am See this weekend.

Andrea Iannone Red Bull Ring Test 2016