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21 Aug 2012

Clouds over Paradise – Part 3

Category: ERC, News Posted 21.08.12 21:54 by

After ERC24 published the first information on the expected ERC overtake by a worldwide operating promoter a storm of indignation broke out in the Rallycross scene. On the day prior to the next FIA ORC meeting here is additional info for our readers as well as questions we raise.

 

We understood from several reliable sources that the whole ‘promoter project’ has started already in 2008, when the impetus came from the two Rallycross journalists Briton Tim Whittington and Dutchman Henk de Winter (by then both part of the ERC24.com team, but busy with this on their own mission) together with British Rallycross driver Pat Doran. Doran Sr. got in touch with many of the leading European Rallycross drivers who agreed with him that the ERC needs a professional promoter these days, rather than following its over almost 40 years old road paved by amateurs. Knowing that the majority of the ERC regulars would be in favour of a more professionally run European series the search for a potential promoter then started and eventually resulted in the agreement with IMG. We do not think or cannot believe that the current plans of IMG have a lot left of the original ideas by the trio, but when dealing with the “Top Guns” of marketing one needs to give up dreams and has to fear the moment of a statement like “this is the only way we would run all, so take it or leave it”…

However, “upgrading” the SuperCars category into a “bite-sized” TV program with no more than 14 + 2 = 16 selected drivers would change the top category of our motorSPORT into a motorSHOW kind of thing. Some may claim that this is the way how Rallycross came into being in 1967, but in 2013 we are 46 years further now. And while the first ever event, on February 4 1967 at Lydden Circuit, was run without paying spectators and for the cameras of ITV only the sport has turned its face at many places into a “you need to be there” party for the crowds (see Höljes, Lohéac, Buxtehude and other venues) ever since. Therefore, almost all fans raising their voice on internet platforms or at the Rallycross venues claim that a to just three hours reduced ERC Sunday would not be something to attract them to the tracks any longer. And the proposed closed paddocks with “sought for” passes can only lead to strengthen the antipathy of those tickets buying people needed by the ERC round organisers all over Europe.

After reading the ‘FIA RallyCross Championship – Overview Presentation’, prepared by IMG in July 2012 for Event Organisers, one must come to the following conclusions:

  • IMG wants from FIA the full power to decide of how and with whom the SuperCars category will feature in all 10 (“negotiated by IMG”) ERC rounds from 2013 on.
  • Could it really be that the FIA is due to accept to grant a European title to one driver from a group of just 14 people, weighed and found valuable by a private marketing company?
  • Although IMG wants a to three hours reduced Sunday program that suits the needs for a perfect (or rather cheap?) TV coverage they actually do not promise a three hour live broadcast from all ERC rounds. For 2013 they promise just “2 Live Events” and for the following years they only talk about the “Potential for more Live Events”.
  • As IMG claims “Growth outside of Europe for Year 3+” as well as “Further growth to a third continent making the Championship a World Championship” it seems that they have already included the USA (a cooperation with the Global RallyCross Championship?) in their plans…
  • While rumors claim that they think about larger SuperCar starting fields already after the first year there is no information about this to be found in IMG’s 19 pages ‘Overview Presentation’. Therefore we better stick with the proposed limit of 16 participants. But in case the ERC turns into a three continent WRXC how many of the 14 pre-selected drivers should be from Europe, maybe just 5? And how many of the 10 venues will be in Europe by then, maybe 3 or 4 only?

 

American Tanner Foust was seemingly all but impressed by the IMG plans. During an informal meeting, organised by the FIA ORC on Friday evening before the Maasmechelen ERC round, the 2011 ERC SuperCars runner-up said: “While in the Global RallyCross Championship all turns around a good show for the TV audience I come to Europe to race in a motorsport event that has its focus on plain competition. I love European Rallycross and its format of racing, the reason why I’m here to take part.” Hearsay from the Benelux events has it that the Yankee is due to pull the plug on his ERC commitments when the IMG plans turn into reality.

As we at ERC24 were told by the man himself FIA Off-Road Commission President Andy Lasure (like some other ORC members as well) is all but happy with the current plans of IMG, we hope that tomorrow’s meeting in Paris is fully aware about the fact that Rallycross has a lot at stake. The future of our motorsport is much more important than a lucrative offer to buy the marketing rights. When the demanded package leads to the loss of vital control over the sold product the previous rulers can easily find themselves back as actors in a puppet theatre.

 

For Part 2 click here: http://erc24.com/archives/7118

For Part 1 click here: http://erc24.com/archives/6818