How to Make the Race of Champions Better: 2010 Edition
Back in April 2009, a whole 19 months ago, the Race of Champions moved from Wembley Stadium in London to the Birds Nest in Beijing. Needless to say the event was not a success, attendances not matching the full capacity, the coverage was poor and in reality, reaching out to an audience that just wasn’t there.
To combat these problems, I wrote a list of suggestions, for example, moving back to Europe, more specifically Germany, where the stadia was available and the fans were at. Then, there was making it relative to the most recent champions, seeing who the best champion of it all was actually. And of course, modifying the cars, to avoid unfairness.
In an odd way, for 2010, they listened to a few of my ideas. The Race of Champions did move back to Europe and even Germany, but Dusseldorf instead of Berlin (at the same stadium to where next years Eurovision is set to be held, but I digress). But apart from logistically improving everything, it in a way made everything a whole lot worse.
The Race of Champions, without the champions
Okay, maybe the subheading for this is mightily harsh, there are a decent amount of champions in the field. But, how long ago did they become champions? Michael Schumacher in 2004, Mick Doohan in 1998, Alain Prost way back in 1993.
And then there are the likes of Jason Plato, yes he won the BTCC in 2010, but 99% of those outside of Great Britain will have no idea who he is, its an obscure racing series to the rest of the world. More high profile champions need to be used, I know some teams are reluctant to let their drivers go to this event, but its the end of season, it is in reality just a bit of fun.
Likewise, get more drivers people have heard of, I’m aware that Filipe Albuquerque went on to be rather good, but the whole point of this is for the fans and no doubt they want the best drivers out there. Not those who have seemingly been plucked from a hat.
It is good to have one person who could possibly upset the odds, but in reality it is also great if there are 15 champions out there, or at the very least, those who finished second. If Sebastian Loeb can make it, why not Sebastian Ogier, or Kimi Raikkonen? Why not anyone in Indycar, maybe if the organisers stretched out a bit, it could turn into a festival of some of the most talented drivers in the world.
The Nations Cup, without the nations
The Nations Cup deeply confuses me. Sure, there are some proper nations in there, Germany, USA and France for example. But then, there is an All Stars team, Team Benelux and Team Scandinavia. What is the point of trying to promote a Nations Cup if there isn’t a proper amount of drivers to make either a) a fair amount of drivers to make it decent or b) if only five teams are actually proper nations.
What I find even more odd is the qualification system, which proves there are nations able to stop that fact.
The main event is clearly the Race of Champions, so why are they trying to devalue that competition to go for a much more of an equal nation feel to the event. Instead of the Nations Cup, why not have another form of team event? 8 teams of 2 drivers each. Therefore, you can focus much more on improving the main spectacle and getting even more of the best drivers involved in the series.
The event has a lot of potential, but come on, what use is it to anyone when the drivers, commentators and the fans just have no idea how the event is structured.
I like the group stage followed by the knockouts, more action for the fans and ultimately more for the money paid. But having the time to decide ties makes no sense, how about a race off? Its supposed to be an entertaining product, so give more to the fans instead of what is being offered at the moment, confusion.
Tell everyone what should happen, get everyone aware and make a damn good event out of it.
Dave… are you reading? This event is just perfect for you. You have showed highlights of the WRC since 2007, showed highlights of the Red Bull X-Fighters and show endless repeats of a show that enjoys cars crashing. This matches your target audience perfectly. It couldn’t be a snugger fit, just take out 3-4 hours from your schedule for the two days and you will get a bigger audience than it currently receives in the UK.
I have nothing against Motors TV, but they are hidden away on Sky, unavailable to a lot of television owners. There is the option to pay for it online, but ultimately that plan is flawed. Less people are likely to opt for the paid content and rather find an illegal stream of the event completely free, just with a bit less quality to punish you.
If this wants to be a success it needs to be on free to view television. Even one of the main Sky Sports channels would work, getting heavily publicised across all Sky channels, picking up more audiences along the way. Its being aimed at a too specific audience when it could be broadened out.
Apart from those four key areas that need improving, the Race of Champions is a fun way to finish the season off. It isn’t supposed to be taken that seriously and is all about pleasing the fans who have made the effort to watch, by that meaning if they have actually went to the stadium or just at home wrapped around a blanket drinking tea. If previous form is to go by, at least one area mentioned will get improved.