Racing fans throughout Europe will be able to follow the star-studded lineup of international drivers as well as the high-speed excitement of Championship Auto Racing Teams' FedEx Championship Series through a precedent-setting Eurosport television package announced today.
Officials from CART, ESPN International and Eurosport Television announced that 2001 CART coverage will include 18 live race events. Eurosport reaches out to 250 million viewers in 54 countries. The CART season begins March 11 with the Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix Presented by Herdez in Monterrey, Mexico.
"This is a significant step forward in developing the sports entertainment programming climate for live CART racing in Europe. Our sponsors, drivers and manufacturers are ecstatic about this package and joined together with CART, ESPN International and Eurosport to make this season's television package a reality," said Joseph Heitzler, CART president and CEO. "The result is that more fans throughout Europe will have the ability to see more live CART racing, on a more timely basis, than ever before."
Eurosport, which secured rights to the series from ESPN, CART's exclusive international television representative for the 2001 season, will broadcast all 21 races on the 2001 season during its prime-time American Zone programming, which is broadcast on Sunday nights. The pan-European sports network's live coverage of 18 of those events will be a record number of live CART race broadcasts in Europe.
"We set out with the specific objective of returning CART racing to Sunday evenings on Eurosport," said CART Vice President of Broadcasting Keith Allo. "I am delighted to say, that with the hard work of many people, including Eurosport, ESPN International and the CART Community, we were successful. This is not only great news for CART and Eurosport, but most importantly our loyal fans in Europe."
"I am pleased that ESPN International was able to play a role in placing live CART programming throughout Europe," said Mark Reilly, vice president and general manager of international sales, ESPN, Inc. "This agreement validates CART's status as an internationally recognized motor sports competition."
Three of the 21 races - Vancouver, Germany and England - will air on a tape-delayed basis on Eurosport. The two European events, the German 500 and Rockingham 500, will air live on local terrestrial stations in the respective territories, but also will be tape-delayed for broadcast on Eurosport during its prime-time slot. Negotiations for the live terrestrial broadcasts are ongoing.
"Eurosport is a key player in motorsports and has taken the initiative to ensure full coverage of the 2001 CART season on its unique multimedia platform," said Angelo Codignoni, CEO of Eurosport. "CART is one of the most important series within Eurosport's new and exclusive program, called the 'American Zone.'"
CART's driver community voiced their delight with the new relationship.
"The fact that Eurosport will be televising 18 CART races live in 2001 is great news," said Scottish Champ Car driver Dario Franchitti, of Team KOOL Green. "Europe is a terrific market for CART. This is great for Eurosport, for CART and for racing fans throughout Europe, not to mention our families who will be able to watch us race on television.
"It's good news as well for the new tracks at Rockingham in England and the EuroSpeedway in Germany where we will be racing for the first time in September. Eurosport's coverage will raise CART's profile
and give everyone a chance to see just how exciting Champ Car racing can be and, I hope, decide to come out and see the races at Rockingham and the EuroSpeedway in person."
"Watching CART races on Eurosport was one of the highlights of my year-long 'vacation' last year," added Italy's Alex Zanardi of Mo Nunn Racing. "Being able to stay on top of all the action from across the pond really made me miss being with all of my friends in the series. And, it probably is one of the reasons I was so anxious to get back. Now I will be back in the race car, but it will be good to know all my family and friends will be able to watch us."
Since 1993, Eurosport has broadcast CART races throughout Europe, including live coverage of the 1999 FedEx Championship Series season. The sports network is the most widely available channel in Europe, reaching over 92 million homes and 250 million viewers in 54 countries. It is broadcast via major European satellites on the basic programming tier of cable networks, and on many digital platforms in the UK, Nordic Countries, France, Spain, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Russia. Programs are broadcast simultaneously in 17 languages: German, English, Dutch, French, Spanish, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Czech, Russian, Hungarian, Polish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and Norwegian and Turkisk. Over 96 percent of Eurosport's viewers can watch their favorite sports in their native language. In addition to the FedEx Championship Series, coverage of top sporting events in 2001 includes: Australian Open, Alpine Skiing World Championships, Figure Skating World Championships, Moto GP and Superbike, Cycling Tour de France, Athletics World Championships, and the French Open.
In the U.S., all FedEx Championship Series races air on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2, with 19 of the 21 events scheduled for live broadcast. In addition to the race itself, weekend programming consists of one-hour qualifying shows, as well as the half-hour "CART 2Day" pre-race program and "Inside CART," the weekly magazine-style show on ESPN2, for all North American races.
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