dr-baker wrote:The only time I got genuinely interested and cared about the result is when Kris Meeke was in the Prodrive Mini... Didn't last long, did it? And there was a time when Mini had scored a podium in about 50% of its rallies, after Monte this year. Again, didn't last long, did it? Only thing going to get me caring much again is if Petter Solberg could genuinely challenge Loeb for the title...
Kris Meeke? Meh.
We need more Marcus Gronholms. Damn I miss that guy. He was the reason I watched WRC beyond 2006. Was heartbroken when he slid into that wall in Ireland, in 2007 I think it was? He was Loeb's only equal after the other greats had left the sport. Hirovnen and Latavala will never match him.
To be honest, anybody that wasn't Loeb and looked competitive was a welcome relief, even if that period of competitiveness was all too brief before BMW and Prodrive fell out. I have to agree that, as things stand, Hirvonen and Latvala are not likely to rival Loeb - Hirvonen won't be allowed to compete with Loeb whilst at Citroen, given how fiercely the team have imposed their team orders, whilst Latvala has been so accident prone that it is amazing that he has even managed to score any points at all. Added to that, Ford's management seem determined to constantly mismanage their resources - take Wilson's refusal to make Solberg the team leader, even when Latvala, after injured himself in training, was publicly calling for Ford to back Solberg. When Latvala announced that he was writing off his chances of this years WRC title, Wilson seemed to be utterly oblivious to that (saying that he "hadn't looked into things"), as if he was only now seemingly realising how far back Latvala was. As another example of their peculiar thinking, look at Solberg's tyre strategy in the New Zealand Rally - using hard tyres in the cold, wet conditions of the first day, then switching to fresh softs on the penultimate day (a move that has totally confused Citroen, because the weather forecast for tomorrow suggests that the conditions will be colder and wetter, just when a fresh set of soft tyres would really pay off) - they have been doing the very opposite of what would make sense at the time.
About the only real hope is that VW's full works team can be competitive right from the off in 2013 and offer Ogier a chance of taking the fight to Loeb directly - at least then we might have a chance of seeing some sense of competition. It may be too little, too late though - and somewhat ironically, although Loeb's domination has increasingly hurt the WRC's standing (much as Schumacher's period of domination in F1 lead to a noticeable drop in support for F1), at the same time Loeb is the only rally driver that might be vaguely recognisable with the wider public and help promote the sport.
BaconLettuceNinja wrote:I used to watch WRC many moons ago...completely forgot it was still going.
Is it even on TV in the UK?
Eurosport did coverage for Monte Carlo, then stopped. ITV were said to be on the verge of penning a new deal to bring it back to their male-oriented ITV4 channel, but they dropped out when the North One saga began. There was talk of them going ahead anyway earlier on this season when they resolved some of the initial difficulties, but talk of that has now also died out. ESPN did not renew at the end of last season after a sole year with the rights, Dave is not interesting in having it back, so it seems it isn't really welcome anyway.
Motors TV has it, but that's all. That says it all really, the only place you can watch the pinnacle of rallying is on a specialist motorsports channel. It isn't mainsteam anymore.
It has got to the point where the sport has lost almost all of its prestige - these days, the WRC has been hitting the headlines for the wrong reasons more often than not, with the collapse of North One and the farcical debacle over timing at the Monaco Rally, the lack of support from the FIA as the organisers are forced to make their own deals, leading directly to Nokia pulling the plug on its sponsorship (and taking its planned social media advertising campaign with it), event organisers in open dissent with the FIA and, earlier in the year, the angry exchanges between Prodrive and BMW over its Mini WRC project.
With those recent problems coming on top of the fact that the sport is simply no longer as media friendly as it was when there were multiple competitive teams, it is hard to see why any mainstream broadcaster would be attracted to the WRC - and, of course, the longer that the WRC goes without mainstream coverage, the lower the chances that it'll ever recover that same sort of wider attention and prestige it once had.