Why the WRC needs more personalities

Like most hard-core rally fans, I find the live coverage of the World Rally Championship  pretty much addictive on rally weekends.

The WRC All Live coverage has brought the WRC to the fans, and while the coverage can get a bit repetitive at times, nobody in their right mind is complaining.

After all, any coverage is better than none.

One of the things I have been critical of in recent seasons, however, are the stale and boring comments from drivers at the end of stages.

Back when we had Rally Radio, we listened with bated breath, and drivers seemed more willing to actually tell it like it was.

Now, with a live audience watching, drivers are more refrained. The lack of follow up questions, and the impact of COVID-19, has also reduced the quality of the interviews.

At least when Jari-Matti Latvala was competing he spoke from heart, unlike the Tanaks and the Evans’ of the WRC who speak as few words as possible – and usually without really telling us anything.

So, it was refreshing to hear Mads Ostberg’s f-bomb laced tirade on the final day in Italy, when a punctured front tyre cost him the lead in the WRC2 category.

While I’m not for a moment condoning Mads’ language, you certainly can’t deny his passion.

“I’m so f****** annoyed, all the things happening all the time,” Østberg said.

“These f****** s*** tyres, I touched absolutely nothing, straightaway I have a puncture. F****** hell, I’m so f****** tired.”

It came after an hilarious (to the viewer) blow up after he crossed the finishing line. Yelling, screaming and punching the steering wheel, even co-driver Torstein Eriksen joined in, throwing his pace notes against the dash.

It was funny, and actually showed what it really meant to Ostberg.

Mads Ostberg (NOR) and Torstein Eriksen (NOR) of team Citroen C3 R5 PH Sport celebrate the WRC 2 category world champion 2020 title during the World Rally Championship

He was subsequently given a 25 point suspended penalty and a suspended financial fine, and then went on social media to apologise for his actions and his language.

I agree that he needed to be slapped over the wrist for the language, but here’s hoping that other WRC drivers don’t become even more introverted when a microphone is shoved through the driver’s door.

The sport needs characters, and unless we can promote the different personalities and nationalities within the WRC, then we’re solely relying on the cars themselves to tell the story.

History tells us that alone, that won’t do the job anywhere near well enough for the general media.

Peter has been the editor of RallySport Magazine since its inception in 1989, in both printed and online form. He is a long-time competitor, event organiser and official, as well as working in the media.


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