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Image from the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship Iron Man Nation
NEWS

Monster Energy Motor Racing 2018 Recap

Dec 182018

Monster Energy’s global presence in the motorsports world is much bigger than any fan might expect. Whether it’s on two wheels or four, on- or off-road, and on racetracks of all varieties, it’s all but a guarantee that you’ve seen the Monster Claw adorned on a car and racing suit somewhere. Each year, the Monster Energy Motorports Army grows thanks to our direct support of some of the best, most prolific racers on Earth. In addition to our series-wide support of the most compelling and heart-pounding championships in the world.

From championship triumphs to wins in some of the most prestigious races in the world, the Monster Army represented the brand with pride and put the Monster Claw on the top step of the podium more often than not in 2018. Collectively, Monster Energy motorsports athletes collected seven championships across several of the most high profile racing series in the world. Additionally, this group of top level drivers and riders combined to amass nearly 100 wins and nearly 200 podium finishes to go along with an array of other successes that made the 2018 racing season a truly memorable one.

Formula 1

Total Wins: 11

Total Podiums: 25

Championships: 1

 

Drivers:

Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport

Valtteri Bottas – Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport

 

Perhaps no achievement for Monster Energy was more impressive than that of Lewis Hamilton in the pinnacle championship in all of motorsports. The British superstar remained the world’s best driver by piloting his Monster Energy-backed Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1 W09 EQ Power+ to an incredible fifth FIA Formula 1 World Championship, which also vaulted Mercedes to its fifth consecutive constructors title.

 

Hamilton enjoyed what was, in his own words, the best season of his career. While he earned 11 pole positions and also set a new personal record of 11 victories, Hamilton made his biggest impact this season with near-perfect consistency. He was able to land on the podium in 17 of 21 races, which allowed him to continually put more and more distance between himself and archrival Sebastian Vettel as the season wore on. In fact, Hamilton’s prowess for running up front was so impeccable that he wrapped up the championship two races early in Mexico City.

 

In their six seasons together, Hamilton and Mercedes have earned four championships, including back-to-back titles over the last two years. The Brit appears to only now be entering his prime at the age of 33 and has amassed 73 career wins, 18 shy of Michael Schumacher’s all-time mark. Moreover, Hamilton’s five championships ties him with fellow legend Juan Manuel Fangio for the second most in history, just two shy of Schumacher’s record of seven.

Motocross & Supercross

Total Wins: 33

Total Podiums: 71

Championships: 3

 

450 Riders:

Eli Tomac – Monster Energy Kawasaki

Justin Barcia – Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing

 

250 Riders:

Aaron Plessinger – Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha

Dylan Ferrandis – Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha

Colt Nichols – Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha

Justin Cooper – Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha

Austin Forkner – Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki

Adam Cianciarulo – Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki

Joey Savatgy – Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki

 

It was a banner season for Monster Energy in the world of motocross, as the Monster Army collected a bounty of race wins and multiple championships. With a star-studded lineup across both the 450cc and 250cc divisions, the Monster squad racked up 33 wins across Monster Energy Supercross and the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, with the win share spread across the likes of Eli Tomac (16 wins), Justin Barcia (1 win), Aaron Plessinger (10 wins), Austin Forkner (2 wins), Dylan Ferrandis (2 wins), Adam Cianciarulo (1 win), and Joey Savatgy (1 win). On top of that, Tomac successfully defended his 450 Class title outdoors to become the first back-to-back champion since Ricky Carmichael, while Plessinger accomplished the rare season sweep by winning both the 250SX Western Regional title and the 250 Class national championship. If there was any single form of racing where Monster Energy made its biggest impact in 2018, it was without a doubt in the sport of motocross.

 

Tomac did his best to lay claim as the best rider on the planet, and while his European counterparts will surely try to rebuke this distinction, the Kawasaki rider’s dominance across two dynamically different disciplines in 2018, capped off by a million-dollar ride at the Monster Energy Cup, makes about as strong a case as you could ask for.

 

After a trying start to the Monster Energy Supercross season that all but eliminated him from title contention, there was nothing left for Tomac to do but go out and win, and that’s exactly what he did. The Monster Energy rider carried on to take eight wins in the final 15 races, accompanied by a total of 12 podium results. Despite missing out on a chance to contend for the championship, Tomac still put the racing world on notice by continuing to be the most successful rider in Monster Energy Supercross, where he’s now won exactly half of the Main Events the past two years. He capped off a frustrating-but-productive season with a third in the final standings.

 

The ups and downs of the supercross season provided added motivation for Tomac and the Monster Energy Kawasaki squad as they entered the summer Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship in defense of the 450 Class crown. From the get go it was clear that Tomac’s determination was going to make life hard on his fellow competitors as he quickly racked up wins and a commanding points lead. A hiccup midseason at RedBud threatened to erase all the hard work they had done, but like a true champion, Tomac bounced back with some of the most incredible come-from-behind efforts in recent memory to easily to hoist the Edison Dye Cup yet again. He finished the summer with eight wins and 10 podium finishes in 12 rounds.

 

The summer provided a complete 180 from what Tomac endured in the winter, and it ultimately gave him added confidence entering the annual Monster Energy Cup in Las Vegas. The All-Star showcase saw the No. 3 rise to an even greater level of performance, to where no one was remotely capable of keeping pace. While winning three consecutive 10-lap sprints is no easy feat, Tomac made it look like child’s play and he easily stormed to the “Monster Million,” becoming the first rider in Monster Cup history to win the event more than once. Fastest man on the planet seems like a pretty accurate distinction of Tomac in 2018.

 

As Tomac reigned supreme in the 450cc division, Plessinger went out and showed he’s a superstar in the making in what became his final year aboard a 250cc machine. The Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha rider was a revelation in both Monster Energy Supercross and the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, where it was obvious that he was maximizing his potential as a rider. Prior to 2018, Plessinger had never earned more than a one win in a single season in either championship, but he ultimately blew his past performances out of the water and set a new standard for himself.

 

Plessinger entered the Western Regional Championship in supercross as an underdog. While many knew he had the speed to contend on a weekly basis, and was likely to grab a win along the way, no one expected the second-generation racer to rise to the top as quickly as he did. He capured three wins in the first five races and successfully managed his championship lead through the remainder of the season, finishing things up with his first professional title and leading a 1-2-3 finish for Monster Energy in the final West Region standings.

 

When things shifted outdoors for the summer, Plessinger was once again under the radar. It took him just two races to earn his first win of the season and he quickly positioned himself in the thick of the title fight. A midseason lull put his hopes of a championship run in jeopardy, but Plessinger responded with four wins in the final six rounds, including six consecutive podium finishes to wrap up the most prestigious championship in the sport.

World Superbike

Total Wins: 19

Total Podiums: 34

Championships: 1

 

Riders:

Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki Racing Team World SBK

Tom Sykes – Kawasaki Racing Team World SBK

Alex Lowes – Pata Yamaha Official World SBK Team

 

Monster Energy brought home yet another major title in the MOTUL FIM World Superbike Championship, extending an unparalleled reign of dominance in that series that now sits at four straight seasons. At the helm of Monster Energy’s supremacy in World SBK was none other than Jonathan Rea, who amassed his most impressive season to date. The Irish veteran has won every championship since he made the move to the Monster Energy-backed Kawasaki Racing Team World SBK in 2014, culminating with the first ever four-peat in the history of the championship this season.

 

During his reign Rea has continuously ascended into the upper echelons of the greatest superbike riders, and based on everything he accomplished in 2018, you could make a pretty convincing argument that he’s the greatest rider World SBK has ever seen. Over the course of 13 rounds this season, each of which features a pair of races, Rea secured 17 wins, which was good enough to equal the all-time single-season record set by Doug Polen way back in 1991. Rea was as strong as ever from the moment the lights went dark at the first race of the season, and while he occasionally received a challenge from teammate Tom Sykes, fellow Monster Energy athlete Alex Lowes, and archrival Chaz Davies, Rea only missed out on a podium finish three times.

 

What really stands out about Rea’s exceptional 2018 season is the longevity of the dominance he had over his fellow competitors. The Irishman went on an absolute tear to finish the season, winning the final 11 races consecutively, which not only established a new record win streak, but also meant Rea was undefeated over a stretch of five months! He amassed what has to be considered the single-most-dominant season in World SBK history, and is now the most successful rider ever for a single manufacturer with 56 career wins aboard a Kawasaki.

Baja 1000

Wins: 1

 

Driver:

Cameron Steele – Monster Energy Desert Assassins

 

As the 2018 racing season drew to a close, the “Granddaddy of Them All” loomed in November. The Monster Energy-sponsored SCORE Baja 1000 is widely recognized as the single-most-dangerous and challenging race in the world as hundreds of trucks, buggies, motorcycles, and side-by-sides storm off into the Mexican desert for a grueling 16-hour race of survival, half of which is contested under the cover of darkness. It was a race that had eluded Monster Energy for many years, but that all changed in 2018 when longtime member of the Monster Army, Cameron Steele, emerged triumphant, albeit a little controversially.

 

Mere weeks prior, Steele captured his first ever SCORE Trophy Truck win driving his Monster Energy Desert Assassins machine. He and his team hit on something in that breakthrough performance that they successfully translated to their effort in Baja. After countless years of chasing the win he wanted more than any other, coming up just short on multiple occasions, luck was on Steele’s side this year, perhaps with a little help from his late father, a off-road icon in his own right, Mark “Big Daddy” Steele, who passed away in July. The Desert Assassins truck successfully completed the 1,000-plus kilometer journey relatively unscathed in a little more than 16 hours, and while he was actually the second vehicle to cross the finish line, a major penalty was assessed to rival Rob McCachren, which vaulted Steele to the top spot despite being saddled with a penalty of his own. Fresh off being inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, a win in the Baja 1000 was one to savor for Steele. The emotional journey to this point of his career was all worth it, and while he endured through the loss of friends and family along the way, there wasn’t a better way to honor their memory than a win in the biggest off road race on the planet.

American Flat Track

Total Wins: 10

Total Podiums: 18

Championships: 1

 

Riders:

Jared Mees – Indian Motorcycle Racing

Brad Baker – Indian Motorcycle Racing

 

Given how dominant his championship-winning run was in 2017, many, including Monster Energy athlete Jared Mees himself, believed the veteran rider would be hard pressed to even come close to that success during his 2018 title defense. However, that’s exactly what Mees did, storming to back-to-back American Flat Track Twins titles aboard his Indian Motorcycle Racing machine.

 

For the majority of the season it seemed as though Mees could do no wrong, even in the midst of some early controversy in which he and his team were penalized for running what was deemed an illegal tire. Mees was forced to forfeit a win and all earned points as a punishment, but it did nothing to impact the end result. The multi-time series champion was undefeated through the first six races of the season and carried on to take wins in 10 of the first 13 rounds, finishing no worse than second along the way. At this point, a second straight AFT Twins title seemed like a foregone conclusion and Mees rode intelligently for the remainder of the championship. While he was shut out from victory during the final five races, Mees topped off his championship run with a trio of podium finishes. He wrapped up the title with three races to go in the season, one race sooner than the previous year, and finished up 2018 with 10 wins to go along with 15 podiums. It was a commanding performance, and Mees shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Speedway GP

Total Wins: 5

Total Podiums: 10

Championships: 1

 

Riders:

Tai Woffinden

Greg Hancock

Patryk Dudek

 

While it is virtually unknown the vast majority of motorsports fans here in the states, the corner of the world that enjoys the thrill of the Monster Energy FIM Speedway Grand Prix is incredibly passionate. It’s hard not to be captivated by the immense talent and bravery of its competitors, who fearlessly storm into the flat corners of small ovals with no brakes and simply pitch it sideways. With a slew of heat races that last just four laps, it’s the perfect kind of racing for the modern consumer and it’s never a surprise to see European stadiums filled to the rafters throughout the season.

 

In recent years, Monster Energy athlete Tai Woffinden has emerged as speedway’s bright young star, and the Brit continued his rise to the top of the sport in 2018 by capturing his third title in six years. Since he broke through as World Champion for the first time in 2013, Woffinden has finished no worse than fourth in the championship standings. While his win total entering the 2018 season was a meager seven, his consistency served as the hallmark of his success. Ultimately, that consistency translated into a breakout season in which he amassed four wins in 10 races, along with six podiums. It’s hard to believe that a rider with three World Championships already under his belt is just now reaching his prime, but at 28 years of age that’s exactly where Woffinden sits, meaning much more success still lies ahead for one of Monster Energy’s most promising, yet unknown athletes.

NASCAR

Wins: 1

Top 5 Finishes: 6

Top 10 Finishes: 22

 

Driver:

Kurt Busch – Stewart-Haas Racing

 

In what was ultimately his final season with the highly successful Stewart-Haas Racing squad, Kurt Busch carried the Monster Energy flag proudly throughout the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. The veteran from Las Vegas was impressively consistent, and while the likes of teammate Kevin Harvick, younger brother Kyle Busch, and reigning series champion Martin Truex Jr. took the vast majority of the win share, Kurt was always in the mix with them, leading a total of 644 laps in 2018 en route to 22 top-10 finishes and six top-5 finishes. Busch’s persistence paid off in a big way under the lights in Bristol, where he emerged victorious to claim the 30th win of his career and clinch his spot in the season-ending 16-driver playoff.

 

When the playoffs got underway, Busch continued his consistent ways and easily transferred into the Round of 8. Form there he set his sights on a spot in the Championship 4 at the Homestead finale. At the penultimate race of the season from Phoenix, Busch put himself in a position to do just that. The No. 41 Monster Energy Ford led for 52 laps that afternoon, only to be taken out by another impatient driver and thus bringing his title hopes to an end. It was a disappointing conclusion to what was a promising shot at the championship, but overall Busch represented the Monster Army proudly throughout the season and ensured the claw made a trip to the winner’s circle.

NHRA

Total Wins: 10

Total Finals Appearances: 20

 

Drivers:

Courtney Force – John Force Racing

Brittany Force – John Force Racing

John Force – John Force Racing

Robert Hight – John Force Racing

 

The John Force Racing effort entered the 2018 NHRA Drag Racing Series season in hopes of being able to successfully defend their Top Fuel and Funny Car championships, and while every member of the Force family was able to earn a victory this season, the team missed out on back-to-back titles in either division.

 

The JFR squad got an early scare when Brittany Force’s Monster Energy Top Fuel Dragster crashed at the season-opening round in Pomona. While she fortunately walked away unscathed, the defending Top Fuel Champion was forced to regroup and start anew at the next round. She did just that, breaking through for what would be her lone victory a few rounds later at the Spring Nationals in Texas. Brittany would make just one more finals appearance the rest of the season, but she qualified for the Countdown to the Championship and finished fifth in the final standings.

 

In the Funny Car division, Courtney Force and Robert Hight were perennial contenders for wins, which gave them both a great shot at the title. Courtney was the most successful member of the JFR effort, earning four wins in eight final round appearances, while Hight wasn’t far behind with four wins of his own in seven final rounds. The pair provided ample exposure for Monster Energy, with the highlight of the season no doubt coming when Courtney and her father, John, squared off in the final round of the Virginia Nationals, where Courtney emerged victorious. John was able to secure a milestone 149th career win at the Mile High Nationals, which helped land all three Funny Car drivers in the Countdown to the Championship. In the end, Hight narrowly missed out on defending his championship with a runner-up finish in the final standings, with Courtney finishing sixth and John ninth.

MotoGP

Total Wins: 5

Total Podiums: 20

 

Riders:

Valentino Rossi – Yamaha Factory Racing

Jorge Lorenzo – Ducati Team

Maverick Vinales – Yamaha Factory Racing

Cal Crutchlow – LCR Honda Castrol

Johann Zarco – Monster Energy Yamaha Tech 3

 

MotoGP’s distinction as being one of the wildest motorsports championships in the world continued in 2018 with an array of different winners and an unpredictable battle for the championship filled with ups and downs for virtually every rider. While the Monster Energy lineup of riders ultimately came up short of their ultimate goal of unseated Marc Marquez atop the championship, they collectively amassed a successful season that produced a handful of wins from three different riders and multiple podium results for every member of the Monster Army.

 

While the living legend that is Valentino Rossi shockingly went winless in 2018, he led the way for the Monster riders with the kind of consistency you’d expect from the best road racer of all time. Rossi put his Yamaha on the podium five times and finished third in the final standings. His teammate Maverick Vinales enjoyed the thrill of victory in Australia and also posted five podium results, but ended up right behind Rossi in the final standings in fourth.

 

For the rest of the Monster Energy riders, 2018 was enduring. Jorge Lorenzo expected to contend for the title and while he was able to take the win in three races, his roller coaster of results hindered his big picture plans and forced the former World Champion to finish ninth. For Cal Crutchlow and Johann Zarco the season was similar, but both riders were able to enjoy bright spots, namely Crutchlow’s surprise win at the second round in Argentina. They ultimately finished in sixth (Zarco) and seventh (Crutchlow) at season’s end, placing all five Monster Energy riders in the top 10.

MXGP

Total Wins: 1

Total Podiums: 18

 

450 Riders:

Clement Desalle – Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team

Romain Febvre – Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team

 

250 Riders:

Hunter Lawrence – Honda 114 Motorsports Official

Ben Watson – Kemea Yamaha Official MX2 Team

Jago Geerts – Kemea Yamaha Official MX2 Team

 

The Monster Army enjoyed a solid season in this year’s Monster Energy-sponsored MXGP championship. Five different riders earned a spot on the overall podium across both the MXGP and MX2 divisions, and were fixtures in the battle for victory each and every weekend.

 

The top heavy MXGP division saw Jeffrey Herlings emerge as the rider to beat, but Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team rider Clement Desalle was one of the few who were able to challenge the eventual champion throughout the season. The veteran Belgian used every bit of his experience to grab 10 podium finishes and a big win at the GP of Russia, which ultimately led to a third-place finish in the final standings. Former World Champion Romain Febvre consistently put himself in the battle at the front of the field as well, getting his Monster Energy Yamaha on the box three times en route to a sixth-place finish in the championship.

 

A wide-open MX2 class saw heavy parity, with several different winners and even more podium finishers. Monster Energy rider Hunter Lawrence was forced to battle through injury for much of the season, but the budding Australian star made the most of his time on the track and put his Honda 114 Motorsports machine on the podium three times in his final MXGP season before he heads stateside. The Kemea Yamaha duo of Ben Watson and Jago Geerts showed tremendous promise and are likely to be serious threats for the title next season. Each rider captured the first podium finish of his career this season, setting a solid foundation for progress in next year’s championship.

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