Tag Archive | "motorsport"

BTCC Racing Stays On Free-To-Air TV

It’s always nice to report good news and for motor sport fans the news is especially great. Hot on the heels of the report that ITV4 will be showing World Rally Championship highlights (MB 12/3) comes the report that their deal to broadcast the British Touring Car Championship has been extended to at least 2017. That’s hours of live coverage from every event. This makes a change from a lot of sport that disappears onto the pay channels and puts further strain on pockets if, indeed, viewers can afford it at all.

What’s more, 2013 should be a bumper (literally) year for this series as the grid is completely full with a total of thirty two cars entered, the maximum allowed. This is top flight motor sport that guarantees high speed, close fought competition from the best drivers in the country. As usual Fifth Gear’s Jason Plato will be bidding to become champion again after last year’s bitter loss to Gordon Shedden.

An incredible thirteen models from eleven different manufacturers will compete over three rounds at every meeting; that’s a total of thirty races in the season. As well as the established stars there are some young guns eager to topple their idols. The factory supported works teams are from Honda and MG and the independent teams will be fielding cars from Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Proton, Volkswagen, Vauxhall, Toyota, SEAT, Ford plus a couple more Honda Civics.

Dunlop continue to sponsor the series and this year, to add a bit of spice, they will provide a softer compound tyre for the teams to use in one of every three races, as well as the more usual harder compound. There’s a reason for this. Although the new rubber will aid performance the teams will have to nominate which races they will use them – the day before. The idea is to cause the teams to have to mix up their strategies for each different circuit which is sure to enliven the races.

A lot of motor racing these days can sometimes be a bit dull. Mostly this is down to safety rules but, on the other hand, the number of fatalities in the sport has dropped dramatically so we can’t complain. The cars are safer too which is just as well in the BTCC because these boys don’t quit and the racing is shoulder to shoulder. Viewers who are new to this will soon be rooting for their favourite drivers and yelling at the villains on the grid. Racing starts at Brands Hatch on the 31st March. Tune in – you’ll enjoy it!

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Cars On Television

Great news! After a year’s break and no Christmas special, the premier car show – in the world – is returning to our small screens next Sunday for seven weeks. That’s right; TG is back and as usual the three refugees from Last Of the Summer Wine will again grace our TV’s with their usual larky high jinks and a choice selection of (mostly) desirable cars.

But is that enough? Are car and driving enthusiasts catered for on the box? The problem is that cars are still viewed by the chattering classes as evil incarnate. Somehow or other, the automobile has taken the brunt of the climate change guilt without a fair hearing. Certainly the car must take its share of blame but if any industry has pulled out all the stops to work towards a cleaner future more than car manufacturing, it would come as a big surprise.

There’s Fifth Gear of course but these days it seems hastily cobbled together, trying to pack an hour’s show into half that time. It is rushed, no matter how enthusiastic the presenters are. Also, it has been shunted off to the Discovery Channel robbing terrestrial viewers of even that delight.

Motor sport fans fare just as badly. The BBC believe that Formula One is the only game in town and all the UK channels, however received or broadcast, completely ignore motor rallies; even the World Championship. Motors TV tries hard and ITV4 covers the British Touring Car Championship very well, but that’s it.

Thanks in the main to JC, Top Gear has moved on from the stiff and starchy early days (Noel Edmonds! Angela Rippon!) to a more fluid format but has the emphasis shifted too far towards fun rather than car content? Every driving nut in the country would no doubt like to try a Pagani Huayra but very few of them would buy one even if they had the very many Euros required.

However, many would be interested in hearing about the new Fiesta ST or the latest Freelander. There’s a wealth of autos priced under £30k that would satisfy everyone’s needs whatever their fancy. The Crossover / SUV market is awash with desirable, well-priced vehicles, for example.

Nissan’s popular Juke (a third of a million of them built so far) has been breathed upon by Nissan Motorsport resulting in the Nismo, a 197bhp pocket rocket (see image) that will satisfy most drivers for a modest twenty thousand. Why, on British third world roads, would we need more?

We probably don’t want TG to change but we almost certainly would like a magazine programme that covers the sorts of cars we mostly buy. It doesn’t have to be stuffy provided the presenters are personable people who, crucially, actually know about cars and the needs of modern motorists. What do you think?

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Red Bull Make A Move On The WRC

There is a conflict of opinion as to whether sponsorship in sport is a good or bad thing. Some say it has ruined many of the popular sporting activities; football, for example, where players pay and sponsorship deals make a mockery of the average wage packet. On the other hand many sports would have died a death had it not been for business investing money to promote products. Look at how the funding acquired from cigarette advertising enhanced the various F1 teams a few years ago. Certainly, F1 would not be where it is today were it not for the power of commercial cash.

So it is with the World Rally Championship. This year, with the failure of its principal sponsor, North One Sport, very early on in the season and much indecision by the FIA, the races have been promoted individually at a local level meaning coverage has been patchy. Most fans in the UK would not have seen it at all if it hadn’t been for the efforts of Motors TV showing regular highlights.

As a result, WRC teams who spend a fortune on R&D – which does filter down to consumer cars – were at one point considering their future in the sport. Without media coverage advertisers would stay away in droves and look for more appealing marketing opportunities. So it is welcome news that after much prevaricating, it looks very much as if Red Bull are going to step up to the plate and become the WRC’s prime sponsor which should in turn bring the media on board.

If it comes to pass then this is a fantastic coup. It’s a well known fact that when this company puts their efforts into a promotion, it usually succeeds. They already have the most successful F1 team and are also one of the principal sponsors of the all-conquering Citroen Total World Rally Team who, despite the best efforts of Ford, are almost certain to win the championship again this year.

Presumably Red Bull would not continue to sponsor individual teams if this becomes a reality. It may be that Citroen will have to spread the net to bring in more money next year. One thing is for sure though; Red Bull would not sit quietly by as the events in 2013 unfold. They will want to ensure that they get maximum coverage across all the media platforms. This hopefully will be good news for fans, especially in Britain, who are starved of their ration of one of the most exciting branches of motor sport.

Meanwhile, as the championship progresses, the other drivers are probably all hoping that the legendary and unbeatable Sebastian Loeb will finally retire next year to give the others a chance. It seems likely, now that Citroen have recruited Mikko Hirvonen as their number two driver. Hirvonen is not the type to sit in the shadow of another so presumably the idea is that he will be numero uno on the team when Loeb moves on. Let us hope that next season sees a revival in the fortunes of the WRC and that the fans get the coverage they deserve.

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