Touring car action is to return to the BBC for the first time in nearly two decades this weekend, series organisers have confirmed.
The opening round of the World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) series from Marrakesh this weekend will air across the BBC’s digital platforms, including Connected TV and Online.
Eurosport Events, which is part of the Discovery Communications group, carries out the day-to-day running of the championship. As thus, the series remains on its longstanding platform Eurosport, with the new BBC deal coming in addition. Currently, the deal does not cover the remainder of the season.
The last time BBC aired touring car action was back in the Grandstand era, when the corporation aired live coverage of the British Touring Car Championship until the end of the 2001 season.
In recent years, the BBC and Discovery have collaborated in the sporting arena, most notably on the Olympic Games front in a deal signed at the beginning of 2016.
Three-time WTCC champion Andy Priaulx said “This is the best possible news for me, as there is nothing better than going into your first race in a series and know that your family, friends and fans can watch what is happening via the BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website and app.
“This can only help raise the profile of everyone involved in the championship and well done to WTCR promoter Eurosport Events for pulling off such a coup.”
François Ribeiro, Head of Eurosport Events, the WTCR promoter, said: “With three championship-winning British drivers on the grid, it’s really good news that fans living in the UK will get another outlet on which to watch live coverage of the season-opening races in Morocco.”
WTCR follows in Formula E’s footsteps in heading to the BBC, although this one-off deal is surprising considering the way the series has declined recently, losing its FIA ‘World Championship‘ status in 2017.
It is possible Formula E’s BBC deal has led other FIA events outside of the Formula 1 pyramid, WTCR included, to experiment with the Beeb. This is a surprising, but pleasing move for WTCR overall.
In other rights news…
Following Motorsport Network’s decision to move Motorsport.tv into the online-only space during the latter half of 2017, it left many championships without a home on UK TV.
One of those championships, the Blancpain GT Series will air live on Eurosport in the UK this season, aligning with the rest of Europe. The series will still be available via a vast array of online platforms, such as Motorsport.tv, YouTube and Motor Trend.
Elsewhere, the FIA World Rallycross Championship heads to BT Sport. All ten rounds will air live on BT, in addition to their existing Freesports deal.