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The brand new WRC+ ALL LIVE was unveiled to eager World Rally Championship fans at the 2018 Monte Carlo Rally. Like everyone, we were excited beyond belief that a championship that features the likes of Ogier, Latvala, Tanak, Neuville, Meeke and Paddon would now be available to us at the click of a button (and the swipe of a credit card). Now, having watched a few live stages from the first event of the season, I must say that I'm still sitting on the fence as to whether 'every stage live' is a good thing or not. But first, here's some rally history .....
When I was a young fella in the 1980s, my dad was a rally fan who did everything he could to follow his heroes from the other side of the world. Roger Clark was his idol, and I remember him making monthly trips to the local newsagent to pick up his pre-ordered copy of Cars and Car Conversions – or CCC as it was widely known.
Looking back, I have no idea how current the magazine was when it finally arrived in Australia, but it at least gave him some link to the early years of the WRC. In 1989, after he had a brainwave (!) to start an Australian rallying magazine / newspaper, we began to receive reports and photos from our original WRC supplier, Colin Taylor Productions. I have no recollection as to whether we knew who had won World Rally Championship rounds before the air mail package arrived, but in it were photos and a typed story on famous events such as the Acropolis and the 1000 Lakes.
Rally clippings

In the 1990s, stories and photos from WRC rounds would arrive via Air Mail, and were eagerly awaited.

The highlight of my working month was usually re-typing those reports and finding out the nitty gritty from the events, such as why Miki Biasion was dominating the World Rally Championship in his Lancia Delta, or why Ari Vatanen had crashed again on day one ..... admittedly while leading!
Soon enough technology evolved and the introduction of the fax machine would see the reports sent through a couple of days after an event had finished.
Photos would still take a week or more via air mail, but the process of reporting the news was getting faster. Teams soon jumped on the bandwagon of sending out reports after rallies, and on Monday mornings it was a race to the fax machine to see who could get the latest WRC news first. As time moved on the internet thing took hold, and we were soon receiving stories AND photos via email, before eventually we could download the images of our choice from team websites. It really had moved on pretty quickly. Then TV got involved, and for the past couple of years the WRC+ subscription service has been providing a couple of live stages per event, including the Power Stage at the end of each rally.
WRC All Live interview

Interviews from the ALL LIVE studio are part of the attraction of the new coverage.

WRC All Live studio Now, in 2018, it's ALL LIVE, and a whole new world of World Rally Championship spectating has begun. I must admit that for a first time effort, the Monte Carlo Rally coverage from Kiri Bloore, Julian Porter, Becs Williams and the team was pretty damn good.
Sure, there were glitches and not everything worked to plan (in fact you could probably argue that not much went to plan on Day 1), but that was always going to happen with such a huge undertaking.
Overall though, it was a great innovation that now enables fans to not only watch live action from every stage, but also enjoy comments and updates from the ALL LIVE studio at each event, as well as interviews in the service park before, during and after stages.
WRC Live control room

WRC ALL LIVE is a huge operation. The team recorded over 250 hours of footage at Monte Carlo.

What more could a rally fan ask for? But is it too much, and are the WRC setting themselves up for a big fall?
Rallying is such a raw, unscripted sport that it can never work like live coverage of other sports. You can't bring out the safety car or call for a time out in rallying. Once it's underway, it's all or nothing.
As a result, rally fans could be about to see the sport in a truly warts and all fashion – rather than in the protected cocoon that we've previously been spoon fed. A prime example of this was in Monte Carlo last year, where the first ALL LIVE test took place. On just the first stage of the season, Hayden Paddon crashed his Hyundai i20 WRC into a wall, hitting a badly placed spectator. The rally world watched in horror as Paddon emerged from the car, and while neither the footage nor the commentary said as much, it was clear that all was not well. The spectator later died.
Crazy rally spectators

Spectator control was far from acceptable on some sections of the Monte Carlo Rally route. Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

This could happen on any rally at any time. While spectator safety is improving all the time, there were still instances of spectator madness on the Monte, and an incident like Paddon's could potentially do irreversible damage to the sport. I'm all for ALL LIVE and the wonderful world of live sport that we find ourselves in, but if the World Rally Championship promoters don't take extra care, then it could easily (and quickly) be seen as a step too far into the unknown. – Peter Whitten

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