MotoGP back to Eurosport

Gotta love the about-face. First Dorna takes the rights from Eurosport to sell them to FTAs, then they do a deal with Eurosport France causing uproar among fans in the UK and beyond.

Autosport.com and others are reporting that Dorna have changed their minds due to pressure from fans (and Toby Moody) and will indeed once again show 125cc, 250cc and MotoGP races during 2009. The support events will be live and the main event will be delayed on British Eurosport. I don’t know the status of the other local Eurosport services so I’m afraid you’ll have to check that yourselves.

2009 MotoGP Coverage (UK)

BBC:
All MotoGP races are live on BBC2. These are followed on the Red Button by MotoGP Extra, an analysis programme. Also on the Red Button are the 125 and 250 races as well as qualifying for all classes. Commentary will be as before: Charlie Cox and Steve Parrish.

British Eurosport:
All MotoGP races are delayed on British Eurosport*. 125 and 250 will be live as will all Friday and Saturday practices. The big news: The Toby & Julian Show will return!

* I expect this to mean the main channel, not Eurosport 2.

Both broadcasters will make the races available online after the event, via BBC iPlayer and Eurosport Player respectively.

Weekend Preview: 28 Feb – 1 March

This week is a stock car week so if that’s not your thing you may as well move along. I’m not planning to stay long either, I’d rather talk about sportscars and the ACO’s entry list so I’m off to do that now!

* * * *

NASCAR Sprint Cup
– Shelby 427 (3/36)
- Las Vegas Motor Speedway
- Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
- www.nascar.com

427 laps or 427 miles? What sort of distance is that? They either picked it with a random number generator, or I smell a sponsorship tie-in of some kind.

British air time: 9.30pm GMT, Sky Sports 3
American air time: 3.30pm ET, FOX

Now we already know from two weeks ago that 3.30pm ET = 8.30pm GMT so we’re missing an hour. Sky have put it on a tape delay due to live rugby coverage. They’ve got live golf on SS1, live cricket on SS2 and live Spanish footie on Xtra, so they’ve run out of room – a busy Sunday night for Sky! The other thing I just thought of – maybe FOX has an hour of pre-race and Sky is jumping straight from rugby to the green flag.
By the way, The Sum of All Fears is on Film4 at the same time, you should watch that instead, that’s a great film.
It’s quite a friendly time so if I’m about I’ll see if I can jump in.

The Nationwide boys take to the track on Saturday. Americans can see it on ESPN2, I’m fairly sure there has been no late UK deal so no coverage for us for the first time in years.

Speedcar Series
– Dubai (2) (4/6)
- Dubai Autodrome
- Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- www.speedcarseries.com

Speedcar visits Dubai for a second time in their current season but this time it will head the bill, what with GP2 Asia taking a long break before Malaysia.

TV coverage: none but try the website

Other
I’ve decided to shunt smaller things to a little section at the end else things are going to get very crowded as we get to mid-March. Yes I know Speedcar ought to go here, it will next time!

New Zealand V8 Supercars
– Manfield (6/7)

And although I never usually do bikes unless it is MotoGP, the World Superbikes are starting their season this weekend at Philip Island in Australia. There’s live coverage on Eurosport at 4am with repeats at a more sensible time. I’m sure there’s US coverage on Speed or ESPN or some place.

BBC F1 coverage announced

The BBC officially revealed their plans for the 2009 Formula 1 season today, confirming much of what has been rumoured over the last few months (particularly on the F1 thread of the DigitalSpy forums). This is the most comprehensive coverage of Formula 1 ever seen on free-to-air TV in this country, and rivals the pay-monthly options in Germany and Italy.

Note: This is UK only. There will be no live coverage on BBC World or BBC America.

Sources:
Announcement here and press pack here (4 pages, remember to click through!).

First the broadcast team. This was announced in November and I posted short profiles in my post at the time (not to mention a video of The Chain). This is a recap of the line-up:

Television
Anchor: Jake Humphrey
Pre/Post-Race Analysts: David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan
Commentary: Jonathan Legard and Martin Brundle
Pitlane: Ted Kravitz and Lee McKenzie

Coverage switches from ITV1 to BBC1. Humphrey brings a different style to the anchorman role, while Legard coming from radio is a much more laid back presence in the hot seat than his two predecessors. Brundle brings his lengthy F1, Sportscar, and now TV experience back to the commentary box. Kravitz also joins from ITV with McKenzie coming from coverage of A1GP and GP2. DC and EJ should be a hoot in the post-race analysis whenever anything controversial happens!

Radio
Commentary: David Croft and Anthony Davidson
Pitlane: Holly Samos

BBC Radio 5 Live continues on from last year. Croft and Samos continue as before while Maurice Hamilton (no relation to Lewis) is replaced by the excellent but out-of-work F1 driver Davidson, who lost his drive when Super Aguri went under and ended up guesting for BBC Radio coverage last season. To be honest I rarely listen to this coverage as I’m watching the TV.

Online
Blogs from the commentary legend that is Murray Walker, current driver Mark Webber, the current on-screen team and their producer(?) as part of an overall relaunch of the Motorsport section of the website, which has been pretty poor over the last couple of years.

Next… the details!

Sessions
(I’ll recap how you can receive these channels at the end of this post.)

- Every F1 race of 2009 will air live on BBC One and Radio 5 Live.

- Every qualifying session will air live on BBC One and 5 Live, except for Brazil which will be on BBC Two due to the time zones interfering with the beginning of primetime.

- Every race and qualifying session that happens before 10am UK will get a repeat showing that afternoon. ITV has done this for some time.

- There will be a highlights show on BBC Three every Sunday evening at 7pm (not Brazil). ITV last year showed highlights at midnight.

- Each race will be available on BBC iPlayer for up to 7 days after the event. Once downloaded you can keep it for up to 30 days. I think the BBC3 highlights package will also be available if you’re short on time.

- Every Friday and Saturday practice session will air live on the BBC Red Button and online, and 5 Live Sports Extra. No word on whether the TV will feature radio commentary, for the moment I am assuming it will. ITV last year did not have any commentary on their online feed.

Red Button
BBC Interactive’s Red Button service for Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin customers will feature some special delights:

- A choice of commentary: either the TV or Radio feed. Hell of choice between Brundle and Davidson, as well as being quick drivers they are both natural broadcasters.

- All practice sessions will be on the red button, not on BBC 1, 2, 3.

- After qualifying and race coverage has finished on BBC1 there will be an ‘Interactive Forum’ on the RB. This is a phone/text/email show with talk from DC and EJ.

- During the race there will be a choice of screens:
1) The main BBC One feed with choice of commentary;
2) Split screen featuring the main feed in one window, onboards in a second window, and a leaderboard;
3) Rolling highlights of the race so far;

Those on the DigitalSpy forum think #2 will be similar to Premiere in Germany, which looks like this:

(with thanks to whoever I stole that from)

Um. Can I just say? Ultra-cool!

No word yet on whether this will be extended for qualifying, or jut race-only, but it’s pretty cool either way.

I am seething a little here because I don’t get the interactive service until Digital Switchover occurs in my region in May. Luckily those streams are online! They’ll be geo-locked to UK-only but I’m sure the techies among you will figure out a way around that. And it means my first Red Button trials will occur during the Monaco Grand Prix – kick ass!

Other
There is a very high degree of likeliness that we will see a Top Gear F1 Special sooner rather than later. Lee McK has already done the lap! I’m having visions of the TG team wandering around the F1 paddock, not during race coverage but as a part of the next series.

5 Live will have a preview show on Friday nights of race weekends, as they have done for a while now. Also continuing is the post-race Chequered Flag podcast featuring driver interviews. I have to say I’ve completely missed the boat on both of those shows, I will try and catch up with them this year. All you international readers should be able to download the podcast freely.

NO COMMERICAL BREAKS DURING THE ACTION!

Okay I think that’s everything, but I’m sure to have missed something – please let me know in the comments!

How To Get These Channels

TV:
BBC1 and BBC2 are obviously available everywhere, if you don’t know how to get those you aren’t in the UK so none of this post applies to you…
BBC3 and Red Button are on digital TV only. You should be able to find BBC3 easily enough on Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media. To go Interactive just hit Red during any F1 broadcast.

Radio:
5 Live is on 909 and 693 Medium Wave, DAB and online.
5 Live Sports Extra is on DAB and online.

I’m not sure the online feed for radio will work , it’s historically been blacked out during F1, so use the TV feed.

I’m sure any American/Canadian/other readers will be turning to our mutual friend Justin for a little help if they don’t like their own domestic feed..

* * *
PS – Meesh sez the USF1 announcement was a washout so I’ll not recap that today, head over to her blog instead.
PPS – Got my tax exam result last week. Pass. *Yay*

UOWWB Questions

I’ve been remiss on not answering the United Open Wheel Word Butcher questions of the last couple of weeks and there’s another one up today, so let’s run through some quickie answers:

Many IRL drivers from last season have not been officially signed to a deal for 2009. This includes Ryan Hunter-Reay, Oriol Servia, Justin Wilson, Darren Manning, Buddy Rice, AJ Foyt IV, Bruno Junqueira, Enrique Bernoldi, Jaime Camara, Milka Duno, Townsend Bell, Mario Dominguez, and a few others. How many of these drivers will be driving in the IRL this season?

This question was posted on Feb 9th and obviously we now know the fates of Wilson, Duno and hopefully Junky (I think he’ll get the other Coyne car). I think Camara is in with Conquest again, he’s listed to test with them tomorrow but I don’t know if he’s confirmed.
I don’t see many of these others getting drives without funding. I’m pretty sure Manning is in sportscars, RHR and Servia definitely need to be in the series but I don’t see anything rumoured on the other blogs/sites. So we’re getting some good guys back, some are sitting out who shouldn’t be sitting out, and others… I don’t really care about!

If you were given one wish and could change anything about auto racing, what would you’re one wish be?

Two words: Economic Recovery!!
At this point all the stuff we’d usually discuss about drivers, teams, tracks, events, sponsors, etc – these things are just niceties right now. We just need to survive. It’s that bad. So essentially what I’d change is the attitudes in some parts of racing right now who seem to have their heads in the sand, thinking this is just going to go away by itself.

“Of the unemployed drivers in the Indycar Series (see below) which two would you employ to join your racing team”
* Ryan Hunter-Reay
* Oriol Servia
* Justin Wilson
* Darren Manning
* Buddy Rice
* AJ Foyt IV
* Bruno Junqueira
* Enrique Bernoldi
* Jaime Camara
* Townsend Bell
* Mario Dominguez
* Jay Howard
* Alex Lloyd
* Tomas Scheckter

We can strike Wilson and Camara as taken for Coyne and Conquest, I don’t think they are 100% official yet but they are almost there.

So to answer the question: I’ll take Ryan Hunter-Reay and Darren Manning, please. Servia is a close call but Manning nicks it for patriotic and personality/PR reasons – and I’ll take RHR any day, he’s the business.

* * *
Interesting day tomorrow, we’ve got announcements from the BBC F1 team on what they have planned, we’ll have something from Peter Windsor’s USF1 operation, and perhaps something will come from the former Honda F1 team as I believe their Mercedes engine option timed out today. While all this happens the IndyCars will have their first test of the year, at the Homestead oval, which will be about as useful as any test of any car in terms of form guides but it’ll give us something to talk about.

I’ll do a round-up at this time tomorrow, if some of that hasn’t happened yet then tough!

In the meantime if you’re on Twitter you should add these:
LeeMcK (Lee McKenzie, BBC’s F1 pit reporter for 2009)
BMWSauberF1Team
Vision Racing
HVM Racing

Tell me if you know any more!

On The Limit

I’ve been toying with the idea of an occasional series spotlighting videos of onboard laps, perhaps one a week, perhaps featuring an upcoming racetrack or someone in the news at the moment – and generally enjoy drivers pushing at the limit of their ability.

I’ve just seen a video which has prompted me to start the series a few days early. Head over to http://www.nofenders.net/ and check out the vid of Robert Doornbos in the 2007 CCWS Assen event.

I plan to use this feature in lieu of writing my own ‘track guide’ before F1 or IRL events, for I am lazy and this is the easy route.

Weekend Preview: 21-22 February 2009

It’s all about A1 and NASCAR this weekend, and in the UK both of these will air live on Sky Sports 2.

A1GP World Cup
– Gauteng (5/?)
- Kyalami
- South Africa
- Website: www.a1gp.com

The World Cup of Motorsport pays its first visit to Kyalami, although for some reason A1GP calls it Gauteng. South African rounds were previously held on a street track by the beach in Durban which was far too narrow, there were always silly little crashes at the hairpin first turn, but despite that it was still entertaining! Let’s see how the newer bigger cars get on at the former home of the South African Grand Prix.
(I put a question mark in the # of rounds section above, ‘cos really, who knows?)

British air time: Sunday 11:30am GMT, Sky Sports 2
Elsewhere: check listings or use a1gp.com

NASCAR Sprint Cup
– Auto Club 500 (2/36)
- Auto Club Speedway (which is really California Speedway)
- Fontana, California, United States
- www.nascar.com

I’m not sure why, but NASCAR thought it would be idea to make the teams drive from Florida to California in a few days between a couple of 500 mile races. Good plan, NASCAR, nothing like tiring out your teams at the very beginning of a 36 race season. Tune in to see how the boys cope. It’ll be late here and I’ll be sleeping.

British air time: 11pm GMT, Sky Sports 2
American air time: 5pm EST, FOX

Support races at Fontana include:

Saturday:
NASCAR Nationwide Series
- Stater Bros 300

:shrug: I know nothing.

British air time: Not found.
American air time: Saturday 7pm EST, ESPN2

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
- San Bernadino County 200

Is that a local county? If they are sponsoring it, times must be tight..

British air time: Not found.
American air time: Saturday 3pm, FOX

Seems the 3rd tier event gets to run on Fox while the 2nd tier doesn’t, not sure of the logic but there you go.

* * *

This is all very interesting but probably the most interesting events of the next seven days happens on Tuesday where we will have two important announcements:

1) USF1 making an announcement on SPEED.
2) BBC announcing full details of their F1 coverage, I’m looking forward to that more than the USF1!

Okay, have a great weekend.

A roof over your head

So.. I watched the Daytona 500 last night. You may have seen my Twitter feed at the time (see side panel) and my comments on Meesh’s recent post.

I think some of those experienced NASCAR fans following me on Twitter might have been getting a bit annoyed at my newbie-ness. I was going for the ‘F1/IRL fan discovers N-Word ovals’ take, because that’s what it was. I’m not going to apologise for that, I make it clear that I’m not a NASCAR fan, so if I annoyed you that’s your own fault for following me! (Yes, I am a bit of a racing snob.)

Someone even asked how long I’d been following racing so surprised were they at my reaction to the US feed I was watching. It was tongue-in-cheek (err, I think?) but perhaps not realising that British sports coverage doesn’t have sponsored discussion topics and anthropomorphic camera angles – or maybe it was to suggest I’m a noob for not being aware of the $$ in N-Word. Perhaps it was said not knowing I was British although I’m not sure why – I bang on about it far too often.

I just couldn’t believe how many ad breaks were taken, and during the coverage how many times a sponsor was mentioned. They couldn’t go more than 20 seconds without mentioning a brand name! It was ridiculous. Talk about over-commercialisation of sports.. and they say the Premier League has got it bad.

Just to rub it in to my American readers, our Formula 1 coverage switches to BBC1 this year – no commercials AT ALL! (apart from lots of BBC self-promotion)

Back to Daytona, and once I found a steady video feed quite late into the race I did actually enjoy it. I’m not stupid enough to expect real racing on a restrictor plate track, you need to look for strategy and leave the driving to another race. Some great strategic racing was developing before a yellow flag was thrown because a car was sent into the infield. I didn’t see much debris on the track on this occasion, but that yellow did breed further yellows (for bigger incidents) which spoiled the flow of the race for me, and that persisted until the red flag for rain. As many sites and blogs have noted, it was an anticlimax.

I don’t know why I persisted with the less-good feed for so long. I think it contributed to my lack of enjoyment for the first half of the event, however others have noted on other blogs (and on Twitter) that NASCAR races aren’t actually that interesting or enjoyable until 50 to go anyway, so maybe it wasn’t the video feed…

In summary, it was more enjoyable as a whole than I was expecting and you can’t blame them for stopping for rain. If anything the stupid start time did them in. 3.30pm? Madness. Races should always start on the hour unless they are on the undercard. I’ll be trying NASCAR ovals at random intervals again this year, follow my Twitter if you can bear it.

Full disclosure: On Twitter I said I’d not seen a full NASCAR race before. That was a little white lie. I’ve watched Watkins Glen, and I watched a chunk of Nationwide at Montreal last year. I had never seen a full NASCAR oval event before. I used to watch the odd highlights package – they cut so much out you couldn’t figure out what was happening so I gave up on that idea fairly quickly.

Before the oval action I took in BTCC at Brands Hatch (Indy) and DTM at Barcelona, both recordings of events held in September, and still found time to go to the laundrette.
The DTM was boring once it had settled down, the field got far too spread out although I liked the battle between Paul Di Resta and Timo Scheider early on.
The BTCC at the short layout of Brands is always fast and frenetic and this was no exception! It won the day for me in terms of tin top entertainment. Giovanardi is a worthy champion and it is a shame to see his adversaries SEAT leave.

Tonight I’m watching WTCC at Imola, the first time I’ve seen the place since the redevelopment. They’ve done a great job with the revisions but F1 was right not to go back, even though the revisions were only done to please Bernie. It’s a good bike and touring car track but is in no way suited to big open wheel cars. WTCC isn’t as entertaining as BTCC but watching Thommo working hard for some good results was fun.

After this sudden binge of racing I’ll probably take a break from watching any for a few days – I still have plenty on my hard drive – BTC and WTC have short races which is why I’ve got through so many this weekend. Knowing me I’ll probably be on the podcasts tomorrow instead!