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RE: Prior Convictions: WRC OMG

RE: Prior Convictions: WRC OMG

Saturday 6th January

Prior Convictions: WRC OMG

Has global rallying really lost its way versus rallycross? Prior doesn't think so.



In the early 2000s the World Rally Championship had what it reckoned was a wonderful idea and a bold plan - to turn itself into one of the top five global sports in the world. Not just a top five motorsport, a top five global sport.

It didn't really pan out like that. As it sought to make spectator and TV coverage easier, it made itself less like rallying of old. Long stages, remote service areas and even entire rallies like the Safari Rally, of Kenya, were dropped. In came more Super Special Stages, single service parks, shorter stages over smaller areas and, with it, as the WRC tried to make itself more easily 'watchable', so it made itself more like rallycross.


And rallycross, as it turns out, did rather well out of rallying's migration. Because while rallying set about removing the heart out of what made it special, rallycross reminded the world that it, too, was exciting loose surface driving; only with the added advantage of the fact that it was actually only based in one location, and featured very cool, very fast cars that actually competed head-to-head, in a way that WRC's virtual spectator was, quite literally, only imagining.

In the UK, what was heralded as a brave new era when Channel 4 began terrestrial TV coverage in 2002, which later moved to ITV, eventually shifted to ITV4, then Dave, then ESPN, and then, by 2013, nobody. For most of this decade, the WRC has pulled in four eligible points-scoring manufacturers a season. Between 2000 and 2004, there were seven.


Meantime, rallycross moved out of its niche, 'extreme sport' world, the FIA World Rallycross Championship was established in 2014 and attracted drivers like former WRC champion Petter Solberg, Ken Block; even Sebastien Loeb has competed.

Is it unfair to think that watching WRC, then, became watching fewer cars than you were used to, and not necessarily very interesting ones at that, raced by people you don't know in places you don't care about and largely won by the same man? Perhaps. But there are only so many sports you can follow, right?

I'll admit I haven't watched it a great deal recently. And then the other week this video landed, which features WRC driver Thierry Neuville making a Hyundai i20 do things I had not considered possible. The way it moves but stays flat over rough terrain, the way it lands but doesn't bounce, the way it brakes but doesn't dive, the way it shifts from straight line to turning: about half a dozen times in this clip what I am sure is a certain accident turns into perfect control. The suspension and tyre tech must be off the scale.


I am a man of few resolutions - thinking that by and large you're the same twat on January 1st that you were on December 31st - but I'm going to make an exception in 2018, and add some WRC to my spectating life. The WRC begins on January 25th in Monte Carlo.

Matt

Photos: LAT Photo, Red Bull Content Pool]

Author
Discussion

Leggy

Original Poster:

691 posts

148 months

Saturday 6th January
quotequote all
I do enjoy watching WRC but it’s trying to follow the TV coverage as it’s not well publicised. Also when I have watched it the amount of time watching the racing seems disproportionately small compared to the interviews.
Will be watching the Rally Cross at Silverstone this year though.

rwindmill

131 posts

84 months

Saturday 6th January
quotequote all
WRC against all my expectations, has improved markedly over the past couple of years. Yes, it still has problems but the sport itself is doing much better.
The biggest problem by far though, when it comes to watching it on tv is the editing of the coverage. There is far to much in-car footage used, too much time spent interviewing the drivers and too much waffle from the presenters. The images we really want to see as fans, are cars going impossibly sideways around corners etc, and on average in minute 30 min highlights program there is 5 mins of external car action.
This is why rallycross does much better on tv, it's all external footage. I appreciate it's easier to cover a whole rallycross track with about 4-5 cameras, but tv companies have to understand that it is external footage that draws the viewers in.
In-car footage gives you no impression of what the car is doing, and as for virtual spectator well, i might as well get the PlayStation out and do my own rally!!

Zajda

125 posts

73 months

Saturday 6th January
quotequote all
Rallycross is great action, TV friendly, but true rally is thrilling to see 1st hand. I was there in Poland when Neuville nearly lost it on 100+ mph jump 0:19 and 0:56 into the video. Pretty intense moment and other cars were doing crazy things too. You can't experience this kind of stuff wathichg RX on stadium.
There is still s lot of people willing to overcome the discomfort of travelling and follow the rallying. But without extensive TV coverage there is no hope to bring more money into the sport.


Edited by Zajda on Saturday 6th January 11:39

Prinny

566 posts

25 months

Saturday 6th January
quotequote all
Interesting swear filter failure? wink

let’s see.

tt

interesting...

popeyewhite

5,739 posts

46 months

Saturday 6th January
quotequote all
In the "meantime"

Yes, it does matter unless you're writing a comic.
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givablondabone

2,314 posts

81 months

Saturday 6th January
quotequote all
popeyewhite said:
In the "meantime"

Yes, it does matter unless you're writing a comic.
Actually wouldn't a comic use 'Meanwhile....'

But I do see your point.

Alex Langheck

795 posts

55 months

Saturday 6th January
quotequote all
Zajda said:
But without extensive TV coverage there is no hope to bring more money into the sport.


Edited by Zajda on Saturday 6th January 11:39
This is the issue as far as I'm concerned; the only way WRC can get extensive TV coverage is to change to an entirely 'made for TV' sport. And then it is no longer proper Rallying. It's been watered down enough - no more please.

I still think it needs far more & better promotion...you only have to look on here and various motorsport/ car forums, and Rallying lags behind many series. So, something isn't working.

alpha channel

960 posts

88 months

Saturday 6th January
quotequote all
Having watched the WRC on TV as and when I know it's on for a good few years I still like it and it has gotten better over the past few years since Loeb retired (different winners and better competition). The trouble is I've seen more of the British Rally Championship (highlights, again enjoyed thoroughly) due to it being a bit more predicable on its screen time (Channel 4, Saturday/Sunday mornings).

I still miss the age of the bigger cars but the driving is still very entertaining though as has already been mentioned it's getting too full of waffle (the same crap spoils the highlights of the Goodwood revival/festival of speed, gormless presenters flapping their lips when I want to see the bloody cars! I try to watch as much as I can on the live stream but it can be choppy).

I like Rallycross but it's not quite the same.

Zajda

125 posts

73 months

Saturday 6th January
quotequote all
Alex Langheck said:
This is the issue as far as I'm concerned; the only way WRC can get extensive TV coverage is to change to an entirely 'made for TV' sport. And then it is no longer proper Rallying. It's been watered down enough - no more please.
What I had in mind was coverage as seen on Eurosport at around 2000 and then few years later when Eurosport effectively helped to found an IRC championship. The rally format was already adjusted to be more TV friendly and the coverage is still worse than back then. So no need to touch the current format even more. Just the promotion and coverage is laughable given today's technology, drones etc. Even with paid WRC+ account you can see only stupid stadium special stages and then the powerstage at the end of rally. Mainstream publicity is non-existent.

defblade

4,720 posts

139 months

Saturday 6th January
quotequote all
I enjoyed this year's WRC coverage - they managed to tell the story each weekend, whereas last time I watched it (some years ago as the article suggests) I had no clue what was happening to who when. The cars are cracking this year, too smile

jsf

10,113 posts

162 months

Saturday 6th January
quotequote all
WRC coverage all went to st when the EU courts forced the breakup of the FIA TV coverage monopoly it had over all 17 FIA championships. From the early 90's until 2000 ISC (Bernie Ecclestone) sold the rally and F1 TV coverage as a package, if you took F1 you had to show the WRC. The ruling by the EU courts forced this to stop, so there was a bidding process for the rights for each series, which David Richards won for the WRC.

In the first year he pumped in tons of money to build the sports profile on TV, with lots of film crews and helicopters to collect the footage from stage so they could quickly edit the footage. But without the clout of the F1 series forcing the coverage to be bought, the investment started to dry up and the TV coverage quality collapsed as they cut back on external footage.

This coincided with an attempt to make the sport more TV friendly with short compact events with no night running, destroying its basic DNA. Then the manufacturers started to leave.

We then saw David Richards walk away and the TV rights went to people who didn't have a clue, first to North One who tried to move the series to a more online promoted basis, that was a disaster, they lost a ton of money. You then had North one sold to a Russian Oligarch who found himself within a year in court with his assets seized, so the WRC found itself with no TV promoter. The FIA stripped North One of its TV rights so we ended up with no promoter, it relied on each individual event having to do its own TV deal, which as expected resulted in bugger all promotion.

Red Bull then got its hands on the promotion of the sport and we have seen a slow rebuilding of the series start to gain traction again.

It's been tragic to watch the sport go from it's heights to lows as they destroyed the DNA of the sport whilst simultaneously cocking up the promotion and car spec rules (no active centre diffs and low power engines = boring cars), things are turning around now with the return to more powerful engines and active transmitions, which is why that Hyundai looks so amazing.

They need to re-introduce the use of puncture proof tyres (moose inside) and we will be there for the cars to push hard and not be out of the picture as soon as they have a puncture.


DelicaL400

189 posts

37 months

Saturday 6th January
quotequote all
Both rallying and rallycross are very much minority sports now. Look at how many posts you get on here about either - even car forum members aren't interested.

andyj007

29 posts

104 months

Saturday 6th January
quotequote all
i used to love watching rallying, even went to wales, in 2015
went to a so called spectator stage at a castle grounds... utter rubbish, cars were too restricted, couldnt get near,
complained and got money back..
forest stages were epic, tho to watch...

tried to watch on tv.. the the tv scheduling is just a mess...

trying to follow it is disjointed.... the commentry is poor..

needs better stages, and also dont care what each each driver has to say after each stage...

had high hopes for the new cars, but they just look odd with the squared of arches...

rally cross is more exciting, to watch..

Pericoloso

32,456 posts

89 months

Saturday 6th January
quotequote all
DelicaL400 said:
Both rallying and rallycross are very much minority sports now. Look at how many posts you get on here about either - even car forum members aren't interested.
All the world RX venues I've been to in the last few years have been rammed with spectators.

Lydden 2017 ,Mettet ,Belgium 2016, 2017 ,Hockenheim 2017 ,Estering ,Germany 2016 ,Holjes ,Sweden 2015.

Alex Langheck

795 posts

55 months

Saturday 6th January
quotequote all
Pericoloso said:
DelicaL400 said:
Both rallying and rallycross are very much minority sports now. Look at how many posts you get on here about either - even car forum members aren't interested.
All the world RX venues I've been to in the last few years have been rammed with spectators.

Lydden 2017, Mettet ,Belgium 2016, 2017 ,Hockenheim 2017 ,Estering ,Germany 2016 ,Holjes ,Sweden 2015.
RallyGB had huge crowds and even full car parks....... Yet outside the world of rallying it received little coverage or interest. This thread is more proof.....

PBDirector

396 posts

56 months

Monday 8th January
quotequote all
jsf said:
They need to re-introduce the use of puncture proof tyres (moose inside)
Do the antlers not actually make things worse?