Death of Rallying…. or Death of the TV Coverage of Rallying?
Both really and maybe they are connected.
Rallies…., everybody wanted a rally in the noughties, rally japan, poland, ireland etc etc…to the point that the core rallys were every year and these new ones every two years as there were so many of them!! Now, just the core remains, no money left for places like Ireland to run such an event. But the calendar isnt crowded anymore and the classics should maintain an interest. Monte Carlo and Sweden finished this year and i saw nothing; i am back to the eighties where i had to spend a fortune on Rally “newspapers” to keep up to date although now i hunt the web for reports and snippets. I doubt the supporters have gone, but like everything it isnt about the supporters its about the casual fans who can be easily distracted and as we see with all TV viewing figures everything is down as we all have Sky etc and hundreds of demands on our time. Maybe we should just expect fewer viewers and take less for the tv rights. Even last year with Motors TV it was enough coverage to keep me happy and up to date.
Rally Car Costs………Likewise the costs have come down yet we have less entrants; this is unlikely to be about TV figures because there was bugger all tv coverage in the eighties and yet audi and peugeot et al were spending a fortune on rallying. Simple almost standardised 1.6 turbo engines, stock gearboxes and no trick diffs anymore should get in more car manufacturers but it isnt; more likely just because they are skint than for any complicated reason. Ford never had the success they required, especially with hirvonen and latvala, andi suspect that is due to driver skill as much as anything else as this year is starting to prove with these two drivers. With few manufacturer teams there is little chance of new drivers getting there, this year sees the demise of Petter and to a lesser extent Loeb; no place for Meeke or the many others lost through the demise of the IRC!! Where are Lancia, Fiat, Toyota, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Peugeot,Audi ?? Either part of groups that are involved and cannot therefore enter(pug and audi); skint at present (pug, the japanse firms, fiat) or involved in other things and only doing one thing at a time (Toyota) Rallying was always dear, its just that now we are all poor!!
Coverage??,,,,,,,,,,,,well i thought Ch4 did a great job; build up programmes, shows every day, virtual spectator…..but if i remember correctly the figures never equalled the money spent on the rights; ITV have the opposite of the midas touch in most things so no surprise there and i miss most things on ITV4 as its buried in the sky menu instead of being in the sports lists. Dave?…really?? that was destined to fail for the same reason as ITV4. Just let Motors TV have it for nothing before WRC dies in the UK; it wont bring in any less revenue to the FIA than they are already getting and may keep it alive for future development.
Surely Rallying was made for TV because it is so hard to watch where it is happening ….despite being free.