Controversial ex-F1 sponsor back in hot water

They say any publicity is good publicity, and that certainly seems to be the mantra of drinks manufacturer Rich Energy – even if it’s usually in a negative light.

Founded in 2015, the energy drink brand rose to fame in 2019 by way of a bizarre spat with Formula 1 team Haas.

Rich Energy CEO William Storey cited poor performance, politics, and attitudes towards the company for the shock mid-season departure.

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A day later, company executives queened Storey in, distancing themselves from those comments they alleged had come from a “rogue individual.”

Eventually, Haas terminated its contract with Rich Energy citing a “corporate restructuring process” at the energy drinks brand.

Now, it seems history is repeating itself.

On Monday, Rich Energy tweeted that it had split with front-running British Superbikes Championship team OMG Racing.

“Rich Energy would like to thank OMG Racing UK for their work in the last two years but the whole agreement is now at an end,” read the tweet.

“Rich Energy is expanding its portfolio in many spheres including sport.”

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A story by Superbike.co.uk in the wake of that tweet quoted Storey, who said the Superbike team had been slandering Rich Energy and misrepresenting the brand.

Storey said that Rich Energy’s own due diligence had thrown up “rather worrying facts” about the racing team after supposed renegotiations late last year.

“I won’t speculate as to why they dragged their heels although many people have contacted me with suggestions,” Storey reportedly said.

“It would be unfair to definitively conclude at this stage but they have repeatedly acted in bad faith and as such the position untenable.

“Clearly their conduct warranted the outcome and that is a high bar. We have given them every opportunity.”

However, OMG Racing UK says it still has a deal with Rich Energy that’s tied to the distribution rights holder.

“Following certain social media posts, press interviews, and publications over the last few days, the Rich Energy OMG Racing team would like to make a statement of facts regarding the sponsorship of the team in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship (BSB),” a statement from the team read.

“Rich Energy OMG Racing is not, and has never been, sponsored by William Storey. Rich Energy OMG Racing is not, and has never been, sponsored by the Rich Energy brand owners.

“Rich Energy OMG Racing is sponsored by RichOMG Limited, the global sales and distribution rights holder for the drinks, Rich Energy (classic) and Rich Energy Sugar-Free.

“This sponsorship agreement was established in March 2020 ahead of the 2020 BSB season and remains firmly in place at this time. The sponsorship also extended to support the team when contesting the Northwest 200 and the Isle of Man TT Races in 2022.

“Following discussions with RichOMG Limited earlier this week, the Rich Energy OMG Racing team has been assured that all other existing sponsorships that have been undertaken by RichOMG Limited also remain firmly intact and paid for.

“These include the British Mini Bikes (BMB) Championship, True Heroes Racing, Tim Reeves, Billy McConnell, Dom Herbertson, as well as Chasin’ the Racin’ and Off Track Podcasts.”

It’s a curious sponsorship situation, although not entirely out of the ordinary. In Australia, Supercars team PremiAir Racing is sponsored by Coca-Cola by way of the local distributor, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners Australia.

Storey said he is chasing opportunities in MotoGP and an unnamed top-level single-seater series. There have been numerous rumors linking Rich Energy to other Formula 1 teams since sharing company with Haas, although none have materialized.

Rich Energy isn’t unfamiliar with controversy. The company was taken to court and found guilty of infringing the copyright of the Whyte Bikes logo.

Red Bull even threatened to take Rich Energy to court for using its own slogans against the Austrian drinks manufacturer.

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