WRC seeks USA and Russia growth

World Rally Championship promoter North One is targeting the United States and Russia for the future development of the sport.

North One was appointed Championship promoter by the FIA late last year in a move to improve the overall World Rally product and extend its reach into new markets.

“I think the difficulties that the automotive, media and motorsport industries – in particular rallying – have gone through have brought everyone a lot closer together," North One chairman Neil Duncanson told SportBusiness International yesterday at the WRC season launch in Paris. “Maybe there is a virtue in the problems we’ve had because it has made us wake up to the fact we need to come to an agreement to move the sport forward so it can become something bigger.

“We also want to go to new territories that will appeal to manufacturers to sell cars into but to also get the attention of fans who we haven’t got to yet. For example in countries like the United States and Russia there is a huge car-buying public but also an untapped reservoir of potential WRC fans."

According to figures from TNS Sport, WRC saw its number of television viewers per rally increase by 13 per cent in 2009. Duncanson put this down to the success of an “experimental" television deal with US network Discovery.

North One yesterday also announced a series of television deals – including five-year agreements with MTV3 in Finland and Network Ten in Australia – and a new WRC computer game franchise which will be released in Autumn for the first time in five years.

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