Motor Sport News - - Front Page - By David Evans

Pub­lic get the chance to watch WRC 2019 kick off Mo­tor­sport News read­ers will be of­fered un­par­al­leled ac­cess to the stars of the World Rally Cham­pi­onship when it is un­veiled at Jan­uary’s Au­tosport In­ter­na­tional.

The se­ries is be­ing launched in Birm­ing­ham for the sec­ond year in suc­ces­sion, but next year’s re­veal will be or­gan­ised with fans as well as the world’s me­dia in mind.

Fol­low­ing feed­back from this year’s Au­tosport In­ter­na­tional Show and work­ing in con­junc­tion with WRC Pro­moter, the de­ci­sion was taken to bring the teams, cars and crews to the NEC on Satur­day rather than one of the trade-tar­geted week­days. Show direc­tor Kate Wood­ley told

Mo­tor­sport News: “Launch­ing the FIA World Rally Cham­pi­onship was one of the high­lights and big­gest mo­ments in the his­tory of Au­tosport In­ter­na­tional. It was a real coup for us this year. Next year, we want to make it big­ger, bet­ter and more fan-friendly.”

World Rally cham­pion Se­bastien Ogier was one of the key driv­ers who led the call for change in the launch date.

The French­man told MN: “We did the launch on the me­dia day at the show, but it could be an idea to bring more peo­ple and do it on a day when the pub­lic and the fam­i­lies could come in as well. It could be tough for the me­dia if we do this, but it’s bet­ter for the fans.”

That sen­ti­ment was echoed by M-sport’s world cham­pi­onship­win­ning team prin­ci­pal Mal­colm Wil­son, who said: “Def­i­nitely it’s worth look­ing at mov­ing the launch, we’ve all seen how many thou­sands of peo­ple come through the doors at the week­end. It would be nice to show those peo­ple our sport and our cham­pi­onship.”

Wood­ley said those com­ments made the de­ci­sion to move the launch date eas­ier.

“When peo­ple like Se­bastien Ogier and Mal­colm Wil­son talk to us, we lis­ten and we lis­ten very care­fully,” said Wood­ley. “As it hap­pens, we were com­pletely of the same mind here.

“We want the pub­lic to come in and meet their he­roes, that’s what this show is all about, and what we’re of­fer­ing in Jan­uary is an un­par­al­leled op­por­tu­nity for rally fans to come and see their he­roes for the first time in 2019.”

As was the case this year, the en­tire se­ries, in­clud­ing all driv­ers, co-driv­ers and cars in their new liv­er­ies – as well as rep­re­sen­ta­tives from WRC2 and Ju­nior World Rally Cham­pi­onship – will be present in Birm­ing­ham for Satur­day Jan­uary 12. WRC Pro­moter man­ag­ing

direc­tor Oliver Ciesla said ASI of­fered the per­fect place to launch the se­ries. “We are de­lighted to launch the 2019 WRC at Au­tosport In­ter­na­tional on Satur­day in front of the thou­sands of pub­lic vis­i­tors,” he said. “Ahead of what is lin­ing up to be an­other ex­cep­tion­ally com­pet­i­tive year, there is no bet­ter way to launch next year’s FIA World Rally Cham­pi­onship than at the show, which kicks off the start of the new mo­tor­sport sea­son. With all the 2019 cars, driv­ers and team prin­ci­pals at the show, fans will get their WRC fix ahead of the sea­son-open­ing Ral­lye Monte Carlo.”

As usual Mo­tor­sport News will work along­side sis­ter ti­tle Au­tosport at the show and MN ed­i­tor Matt James is look­ing for­ward to show­cas­ing the best the WRC has on of­fer.

“It’s fan­tas­tic to be in­volved in this,” said James. “Com­ing on the back of an­other very, very strong Wales Rally GB, the news that Bri­tish rally fans and Mo­tor­sport News read­ers are go­ing to have the chance to come to our show and be the first in the world to see ev­ery­thing that’s new-for-’19 in the World Rally Cham­pi­onship re­ally is some­thing spe­cial.

“If, for ex­am­ple, you’re a Kris Meeke fan and you want to see what he looks like in Toy­ota kit, you’d bet­ter go and buy a ticket to ASI – he’ll be there in his new threads.”

Tick­ets are avail­able for the show from au­tosport­in­ter­na­ ● Mo­tor­sport News will once again present the Bri­tish Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship stand at the Au­tosport In­ter­na­tional Show. A se­lec­tion of lead­ing cars from the cat­e­gory will be on dis­play and top driv­ers will be in­ter­viewed on a stage. Reign­ing cham­pion Colin Turk­ing­ton and 2018 run­ner-up Tom In­gram, along with 2013 ti­tle win­ner An­drew Jor­dan, are al­ready con­firmed to at­tend.

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