Sports you cannot put on TV screens are virtually non-existent. Airing rallying on live TV certainly have some serious issues. Question is, whether anyone cares to do it anymore and for what price.
During the past year there have been discussions about reforming the World Rally Championship for a better live TV-experience, looming the apparently worst possible solution as the future of WRC from 2015. No question about it: WRC does need a radical change if the FIA or the promoters want to keep the 'W" in the abbreviation, but not by destroying the integrity of the sport.
For the record, the proposed change in format includes three days of intense, "regular" rallying and a shootout power stage. Problem is, those stages preceding the final showdown would serve merely as qualifying for the final battle, counting only the stage times achieved there for the final result. The idea is not unlike the concept of "green-white-checkered" finishes in NASCAR, where - upon initiating a yellow-flag situation in the final laps of the race - a new restart is due, rather than finishing under caution. 500 miles of racing, and the end result comes down to a two-lap sprint. In both cases, those who survived the long and exhausting "prelude", can now duke it out at a breakneck stage-run.
The idea is plainly wrong. The same way you do not decide the end-result of a Marathon run by putting the competitors in a 41,900-metre endurance race and then having the ten best ones deciding the final standings at a 100-metre sprint.
A clear slap on the face of rallying in general and I am almost certain it would irreversibly damage the remaining reputation of the sport. If there is somebody working on deliberately destroying its reputation as we know it to put World Rallycross Championship in its place, that person is doing an exquisitely fine job.
Speaking of which, WRX is apparently the next big thing for young TV-audiences: short and actual racing in spectacular fashion. Mixed surface, jumps, four-wheel drifts, bodywork on bodywork - you name it. Rediscovered by the attraction supported by Ken Block & Co., mimicking Global Rallycross Championship on the other side of the Atlantic.
Can rallying stand a chance against rallycross in global interest?
The answer is a simple no.
Does the FIA or the promoters want to keep WRC alive? That's a question to be debated. Does WRC need a change to remain visible and relevant to a wider audience? Absolutely.
So what could be done to make WRC make it to live TV conveniently (the key to fail or success) and still retain the essence of the sport?
Not a one stage battle for sure. Instead, a World Rally Sprint Championship would make much more sense. It's still rallying, it can be still put on TV, although it's not necessarily endurance competition.
One must note, that rallying went from crossing continents through regularity events all over the countryside to flat out time attack on a handful of stages, therefore there is a definite writing on the wall in this respect.
Have one stage run in both directions each day (preferably longer ones, at least of 20km+ length), make them three different ones through three days, under different conditions (e.g. day and night). All cars could then be easily tracked on TV, not spread through multiple stages at a time. Standings would be clear to follow and you would still have the high-speed jumps, the scenery of the countryside, the rush from A to B and the input of co-drivers.
A whole day of Col de Turini, Fafe, El Condor, Ouninpohja and the likes would definitely light up the day of many fans and general audiences alike.
Fearful, that it is not something the reformers have in mind and we are witnessing World Rally Championship being slowly replaced by World Rallycross Championship.
Which would you prefer: shortened rallying or rallycross?
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