SEPTEMBER 5, 2001
British CART race to be screened next day
THE first CART Champ Car oval race at the new Rockingham Speedway has netted the all-important terrestrial TV coverage it needs if it is to have any impact at all - but it won't be screened until the following day.
The race, which is being held on Saturday in case the vagaries of the English weather call for postponement, has so far met with a muted response from the British public - with sources at the circuit putting the public ticket sales at less than 10,000 in the all-new $50 million facility which has a total capacity of 70,000.
Eurosport, the subscription-based satellite TV station that broadcasts the US rounds of the series has no rights either to the Rockingham event or the previous week's race from the new Lausitzring super speedway in Germany. Instead the British viewers will have the chance to watch the CART race on free to view terrestrial TV with the BBC.
The race will be screened on BBC2 on its Sunday Grandstand show, and Pat Young of BBC Sport was enthusiastic about the new addition. "We are delighted to win the rights to this premier event, which adds to our motorsport portfolio," he said. "Only the BBC can bring these major events to the mass audience they deserve."
The BBC has lost almost all of its premier motor sport coverage to commercial free-to-air rivals in recent years, with Formula 1 going to ITV, Formula 3 to Channel 4 where it will be joined from next year by 48 hours of coverage for the World Rally Championship.
The Rockingham promoters have announced that there will be 14 cameras, including two 'robocams' on the perimeter wall and an aerial view provided by a Goodyear blimp. Commentary will be by the BBC's British Superbike team with Suzy Perry presenting, Lee Diffie commentating and British ex-Champ Car racer Mark Blundell providing analysis.