Tag Archive | "FIA"

WRC Argentina – It’s That Man Again!


World Rally Championship drivers are at the top of their sporting craft. These guys can do more things with a car than we mere mortals can do with a knife and fork. When the legendary Sebastien Loeb announced his semi-retirement the other drivers must have thought it was Christmas – now at last they had a chance of winning a rally!

This came to pass when Seb Ogier won in Portugal a few weeks ago in the exciting new VW Polo. Last weekend it was the turn of Rally Argentina – considered by many to be the toughest of the ‘gravel’ events. Guess who shows up with a Citroen DS3? That’s right; the wheelmeister returns, yawns, jumps into his car and proceeds to win Rally Argentina for the eighth time. Ogier came second and Jari-Matti Latvala came a creditable third in the other works Polo. Citroen’s official number one driver Miko Hirvonen was unplaced; he seems strangely out-of-sorts these days.

Rally Argentina has everything. The special stages feature water-splashes, tight hairpins and high-speed straights throughout the rocky back roads. It is well organised and the stages are absolutely packed with hardcore fans. Many drivers were caught out and clearly demonstrated the strength of their roll-cages. The amount of punishment these cars can take is incredible. Next stop Greece at the end of May.

This is an exciting sport. The mixture of aerial and roadside shots coupled with live in-car coverage makes for great viewing, but there’s a problem. We learn that the FIA’s chosen promoter, the Sportsman Media Group (jointly with Red Bull), believes that the WRC is ‘boring’. Apart from what follows you’ve got to wonder why they took it on. They must have known what it entailed surely? Basically, it’s a time trial. One competitor at a time, but it is most certainly not boring.

SMG seem reluctant to sell this ‘boring’ product to TV companies. In a bizarre turn they seem to think that the answer is to sell ‘live’ coverage – but only of the final power stages. Often, by this time, the overall result is decided. The situation is confused and the comments above only really hint at the colossal muck-up they are potentially making of this Championship.

What do you suppose the car manufacturers will think of all this? Citroen, Ford, new boys Volkswagen and next year’s entry from a works Hyundai team are all in it to boost car sales, simple as that. The FIA are not noted for making sensible decisions and SMG seem to be on a suicide mission. It‘s not looking good.

We’ll see if there’s any resolution when we get to the Greek event. Mr S Loeb won’t be there to show the others how it’s done so let us hope for an open and exciting rally that will demonstrate that the sport can transcend the stupidity of the organisers.

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WRC Gets Great New Promoters


Rally fans rejoice! The World Rally Championship – so disappointing in recent years – has at last hooked the right promoters to bring the sport back to the level it achieved in the old Group B days; but hopefully without all the tragedy.

After much unnecessary faffing about by the FIA, it has finally been announced that The Sportsman Media Group and Red Bull Media House have signed up to promote this great sport in 2013 and beyond. With a household name like Red Bull – no strangers to active sports promotion – on board there is every reason to hope that next year will see a massive resurgence in the popularity of this great motor sport.

This announcement has been enhanced by the further news that nine times World Champion Sebastian Loeb is to retire from active participation at the top level; although he will contest a few rounds next year for Citroen, he won’t be in contention for the title. This will be good news for every other driver as Loeb has dominated the sport for the last decade, establishing himself as, without argument, the greatest rally driver ever.

Alongside the new promoters come some rule changes. Basically, it will cost less for teams to compete which in turn means that there will hopefully be greater participation from manufacturers. Already Volkswagen have confirmed a full blown WRC Polo Team, probably headlined by rising French star Sebastian Ogier. Hyundai will make a belated return and field a rally version of its popular i20 (pictured) with the intention of full commitment by 2014.

Over the years fans have been increasingly starved of TV coverage as time has gone on. This hasn’t been helped by the total domination by the mighty Citroen / Loeb alliance. In 2012, with no real promoter other an the individual sponsors for each event, Motors TV have struggled on with ‘day after’ highlights of each events. The commentary from Colin Clarke and Julian Porter is terrific but this doesn’t make up for the paucity of media interest.

Although the in-car shots are great it would be good to see more use of the aerial helicopter coverage too. The manufacturers need top media coverage to promote their wares. The cars look like the ones we drive (on the outside at least) and the sport itself is a truly exciting spectacle.

Let’s hope that between the promoters, the FIA, the World Motor Sport Council and the car makers themselves, 2013 will be the year that the WRC once again reached the heights it has previously achieved. Let us also hope that it’s free-to-air viewing too!

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