“There is certainly no lack of investment here”
Wow, well wasn’t that epic? Twenty five hours of live Monte Carlo Rallye footage beamed direct to the internet on WRC All Live.
Having played a very small part in helping to deliver every stage live, I can tell you that the effort that went into actually making the service happen was nothing short of Herculean. Let’s think about this for a moment: we’re not talking here about a ‘soft launch’ on some obscure rally just to test the concept. No, the WRC Promoter well and truly took the bull by the horns and chose to introduce us to this broadcast revolution on perhaps the highest profile, most demanding rally on the calendar. It’s hard to overstate just how enormous a challenge covering this was.
Let’s look at a few Monte realities. It’s the only twin-centred event on the calendar, Gap and Monaco are separated by 150 miles. It’s traditionally the most eagerly anticipated event of the season. It’s one of the longest events we’ll see this year at just under 250 miles. It runs in mountainous terrain in the middle of winter and is invariably blessed with a liberal sprinkling of the white stuff. The crowds out on the stages and in the service can be enormous – this weekend I witnessed cars parked over three miles from stage ends. Any of these things taken in isolation would normally make one nervous about launching a high-profile innovation onto a very demanding rally public. So fair play to Oliver Ciesla and his team for seeing the Monte as an opportunity and not shrinking away from the enormous challenge.
The second stage of the rally was my first taste of this great new world of rally broadcasting. It was after 2200hrs and more-or-less pitch dark at the stop line of the Bayons-breziers stage. I’d been asked to do the stage-end interviews and rolled up expecting to see satellite trucks and an army of techies setting up the kit that was surely required to deliver a live feed from such a remote location. What I actually encountered was a very industrious cameraman called Ed with a head torch and a Ford Focus. Twenty minutes later he’d rolled out his cables, erected his antenna, fired up his genny and we were ready to go live. And it’s this clever use of the latest in cuttingedge tech that has allowed the promoter to undertake such an ambitious project.
We’ve had tantalising glimpses of just what might be possible in the past. But what we saw coming out of Monte was so much better than anything that had gone previously.
And one final thought. The WRC Promoter is now the biggest team in the service park with around 130 personnel on each event. The hotel bill alone is over £10,000 a night. So no more talk please of a lack of investment from those at the top. This could well be just the beginning.