WRC looking to add F1-style team radio to TV broadcasts

The WRC Promoter is keen to improve the championship’s ability to tell stories to its viewers during events and has appointed a special consultant who will begin work on the team radio concept from next month’s Rally Portugal.

Live team radio is utilised by several motorsport categories with F1 perhaps leading the way with the aspect of the broadcast hugely popular among its audience. In the WRC, every stage is currently broadcast live through Rally.TV, but viewers only hear from the crews at stage ends, and when action or incidents occur during a stage, the audience is often left in dark as to what has happened.  

“I think from our point of view we need to take a bit more of a direct role in storytelling and we need to integrate ourselves a bit better,” WRC event director Simon Larkin told media including Motorsport.com.

“I think we need to find different opportunities to bring the characters out of the drivers rather than going to them 20 seconds after they have finished a stage.

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“We have a new concept for next year that we’re working on with the teams and the manufacturers for more data out of the cars, more live interaction between the crews and their teams. At the moment, these are very expensive rally cars and my rental car has better connectivity than these very expensive rally cars. It is all there on the cars and I think there is a better technological story we can tell about these cars and what goes into them.

“We have spent many years thinking teamwork in the WRC is the work between the driver and the co-driver and I think that is a little bit disconnected from the reality that there are 70 or 80 people here that are responsible for giving that driver and co-driver a car that they are able to perform in. 

“We can bring out more characters; even the relationship between the driver and their engineer is something that maybe we’re missing that other sports are better at.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Hyundai World Rally Team

Andreas Mikkelsen, Hyundai World Rally Team

Photo by: Fabien Dufour / Hyundai Motorsport

One obstacle in broadcasting live communication from the crews is that information teams want to keep under wraps becomes widely known to the public and their rivals.

While the concept is in its infancy, the WRC Promoter is hoping that investing in providing access to more live data from the cars — that may not be seen on the broadcast — will help secure an agreement with teams to allow live team radio in the future.

“We think the quid pro quo that we can offer to the teams is providing them with more live data, like oil pressure, water pressure and the tyre pressure monitoring system,” Larkin added.

“There are a lot of things that sometimes go wrong with these cars that maybe could have been avoided that could keep them in the rally even, if they have the ability to take different actions during a stage, during a road section, all these sorts of things. I think if we can be more involved, we can have more interesting questions at stage ends because we are ahead of it.

“Again, with the data, just because we might provide it to the teams doesn’t mean we are going to exploit some of this data on TV. It is a quid pro quo.”

Peter Thul, WRC Promoter’s Senior Director of Sport, added: “The teams are quite open to this, and it was a joint approach. There will be a point where there will be a red line, but we have to go for it. We may not get everything but at least more than we have now.”

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