On Wednesday afternoon Yamaha issued a press release that stated they had ended their agreement with Knich, an upstart “action sports lifestyle brand” that had signed to a multi-year title sponsorship of the motocross program. This news comes amid a very eventful time for the Yamaha team, as Davi Millsaps recently announced his retirement from racing due to an offseason injury along with Justin Barcia’s confirmation to stay with the team through the remainder of the year and then a hand injury that required surgery.
We and many others wondered what exactly Knich is, as it’s unusual for a brand-new company to become a major supporter of a factory team. After talking to some people familiar with the company, we were told that Knich is the side project of an entrepreneur that is highly involved in ammunition and that Knich was created to side-step a restriction against firearm sponsorship. The founder of Knich is a friend to Millsaps, hence the connection to the team.
At the time we were told that aside from the entrepreneur making his initial money in ammunition, there is no direct connection between Knich and firearms.
The press release from Yamaha, which is posted in full below, included very limited details and only stated that the agreement is void, effective immediately.
Cypress, CA – February 21, 2018 – It is with great disappointment that Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., has terminated Knich's sponsorship agreement with Yamaha Factory Racing, effective immediately. The announcement was made by Keith McCarty, Motorsports Racing Division Manager for Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A.