And there it is, 2013. We had a thrilling 2012 and it wasn’t a bad season at all, but we really deserve a much better year for World Rally Championship – one filled with superb battles, top notch TV & media coverage and lots of new fans. And best of all, new season is only few days away – if you’re lucky enough you’ll be freezing your trunk off at the side of the road in French Alps not long from now for traditional Rallye Monte Carlo. For the rest of us, 2013 should finally bring WRC to our homes in a more elaborate form.
It should, but we still have no clear idea about what exactly will happen for Monte Carlo and beyond. Broken bloody record, I know, but hey, Monte is really handful of days away, and you can call me impatient and hasty, but isn’t now a good time to, you know, spill the beans and let us all know what’s up.
Memories of 2012 season start and all the various dramas are still quite fresh, and one thing was very apparent then as it is now – reluctance to share the information with us. I really do not understand the need to keep everything hidden away from public like this, I really don’t. So what if big money is involved and negotiations are very sensitive. If everyone involved is working 24/7 to make it happen, then time is certainly not the issue – so what is? I remember the global sigh of relief when the news about Red Bull Media House went public – it was huge: big media name took the reins and we were raving on about how WRC will finally get the kind of media presentation it deserves. It’s bloody Red Bull after all, it’s the guys behind Felix Baumgartner, fascinating Air Races, and many other spectacular media stunts. Yet, all we learned so far is that entire season will be covered by 50-ish minute report, each rally will get 30 minute report and we have no idea how they plan to cover invidual legs of the rally.
And so here we are – few weeks before the new season gets underway in Monte Carlo – and we still have no real idea about the concept of TV package for this year. Not even “negotiations are underway” or “legal formalities need to be sorted out, that’s all”, nothing. Is it really the case of not talking because there is not much to say?
At the same time, we can all recall Prodrive’s David Richards interview last year, the one in which he painted a very bleak picture about how hard it is for teams and, I would imagine, drivers to start any serious negotiations with sponsors when they have no real idea of what the future will bring for the sport. Why is this happening and also why is this tolerated? Is this how you do serious business? Did someone forget this very business depends on fans and spectators? Is it really necessary to take them for granted?
I find it really sad and pretty pathetic that FIA and whoever is in charge of WRC media promotion at the moment are behaving like that. They are not talking to us – I don’t find few odd interviews from WRC bosses in 2012 really relevant – if anything, those interviews felt like formality rather then actual desire to talk about the sport and to talk to fans and WRC community. FIA and WRC have no real understanding on how to talk to fans, they lack any sense of real interaction with the public. There is nothing of substance in their releases and this wonderful sport is treated like a private business project. Or at least that’s the impression I get.
Again, I simply do not understand this silence. Is it so damn hard and uncomprehensible to expect top WRC people from both FIA and new promoter to talk to us? Would it hurt someone’s ego to just sit down and write few paragraphs of text aimed at WRC community, giving few general details about new season and at least mentioning the things that are being discussed behind closed doors? They can even say some exciting new features will have to be delayed or are not feasible at the moment. Either they cannot really be arsed to do it, or there is really nothing to talk about, so there’s that.
I am very excited about new season – we have new team, we’ll see Sebastien Loeb few more times and many young drivers are finally getting their chances in WRC. It’s new season and it’s WRC, so we’re surely in for a ride. So why do I rant so much? Because I am sick and tired of being forced to follow this sport through some low-quality power-stage online streams stolen from local TV stations around the world, or have only short reports on not universally accessible TV channels as only way of TV coverage – I am sick and tired of WRC being treated like it’s frozen in time – we can fucking see this guy jump from a balloon in space but we cannot have at least one proper live TV stage per WRC event! Why is WRC depending on it’s fans to be creative and find ways to follow the action on Internet and TV? We are enthusiasts above all, and we’ll find the way – radio, TV or online, but this shouldn’t really be happening if WRC wants to attract new fans (and sponsor money).
It would be great if tomorrow the top news on WRC.com is the shiny new TV deal being discussed in great detail, with WRC bosses (I’m not naming them on purpose, no point) personally (!!!) addressing WRC community with their impressions and forecasts of the new season.