Live coverage of Tour de Corse confirmed, and other IRC goodness inside!

The legendary Tour de Corse, round four of the 2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge, will be shown live on Eurosport in May.

Five stages of the famous rally will be broadcast as they happen, with both runs of Erbajolo-Pont d’Altiani on Friday 11 May and the three passes of Marinca-Cagnano, which includes the final stage of the rally, on Saturday 12 May covered live on Eurosport and Eurosport Player.

In total there will be five hours of live coverage from Corsica, plus daily round-up shows and the new-for-2012 Inside IRC programme, which will be transmitted after the event. Highlights will also be carried on the IRC’s official website, http://www.ircseries.com.

Erbajolo-Pont d’Altiani, which is based around the town of Corte in the centre of the island, will be familiar to Eurosport viewers after it was included in the network’s live coverage of Tour de Corse in 2011. Measuring 25.15 kilometres on smooth asphalt, the stage is known for its high average speed of 95kph, flowing rhythm and spectacular scenery. The stage starts uphill but the finish is downhill, creating a significant challenge for the drivers – and dramatic footage for viewers.

Meanwhile, Marinca-Cagnano, near Bastia in the north of Corsica, is new to the event for 2012. It begins in the village of Marinca on the west coast on relatively flat, albeit bumpy roads, which are characterised by their twisty and narrow nature. The stage, which measures 30.00 kilometres in length, climbs inland and when it reaches the village of Pino, the road widens and the speeds increase on the downhill finish. Rally teams used the stage extensively when testing for the Tour de Corse in the past.

Spectacular footage captured by a Cineflex helicopter, plus the use of SimulCam technology, which Eurosport pioneered in rallying during its live coverage of Rallye Monte-Carlo in 2012 and allows viewers to watch drivers tackling the same section of the stage at the same time for comparison purposes, will form the centrepiece of Eurosport’s live coverage of Tour de Corse.

Olivier Fisch, Managing Director of Eurosport Events, said: “We are delighted to confirm Eurosport’s live coverage of Tour de Corse in 2012. We cannot wait to give viewers around the world watching on television and online the opportunity to witness the spectacle of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge on one of the most iconic events in the sport of rallying. Eurosport’s expertise in producing live coverage of IRC events is widely regarded, particularly its ability to capture spectacular landscapes while, at the same time, encapsulate all the action and drama from the stages to provide must-watch programmes.”

Eurosport’s LIVE coverage of Tour de Corse:
Friday 11 May
11:00hrs-12:00hrs CET: SS5 Erbajolo-Pont d’Altiani 1 (Eurosport LIVE)
18:00hrs-19:00hrs CET: SS8 Erbajolo-Pont d’Altiani 2 (Eurosport LIVE)

Saturday 12 May
11:00hrs-12:00hrs CET: SS10 Marinca-Cagnano 1 (Eurosport LIVE)
14:30hrs-15:30hrs CET: SS12 Marinca-Cagnano 2 (Via Stella LIVE)
18:00hrs-19:00hrs CET: SS14 Marinca-Cagnano 3 (Eurosport LIVE)

Q&A: GILBERT ROY
Director of Editorial and Programme Development for Eurosport Events

What can viewers expect from Eurosport’s live coverage of Tour de Corse?
GR: “Just like last year, viewers can expect to see two very nice stages, which are interesting from both a technical and sporting point of view. Friday’s stage is one that we filmed last year, whereas Saturday’s stage is new to us with some different scenery that is typical of the Cap Corse. We also have one extra live broadcast that is exclusively for Via Stella, Corsica’s satellite TV channel. There are the same live ingredients as always: helicopter images, in-car footage, and also cameras by the side of the stage, as well as interviews from the stage end. Our objective is two-fold: we want to tell the story of the rally, as well as highlight the local scenery, which is one of the strong points of rallying as a sport.”

What is reasoning behind the two stages selected?
GR: “We’ve chosen stages that provide the drivers with a technical challenge and are representative of the rally as a whole. We wouldn’t want to televise a superspecial stage for instance, as they do not tend to have much in common with the rest of the rally. The second factor, which is just as important as the first one, is to find stages that really show the beauty of the countryside – so we look for the places that will look nicest on television, which fans might not see otherwise. The programme lasts for an hour, so we need to find stages that will give us enough action to fill that programme with good material.”

What are the main challenges you will encounter in the live coverage?
GR: “There are many challenges but we have the good fortune to work with a team of people who are very highly skilled in their respective fields. This is the best way to rise to all the challenges that present themselves as calmly as possible. It’s mostly a question of selecting the right people, as well as ensuring the correct organisation. You have to anticipate as many situations as you can but there will always be rain, accidents and other unexpected events so you need to be flexible in your approach. There’s no point in worrying about what you can’t change: only what you can. There’s no fixed script in live TV and anything can happen – that’s the biggest challenge – but this is also the fascination of being live on air.”

What are the planning stages you go through before the event gets underway?
GR: “The first step in preparing a live show is to check if there is a broadcast slot available with Eurosport, which is not so easy as there are so many sporting events covered every weekend. But luckily we have a very good working relationship with the schedule planners and we normally manage to find a spot to broadcast even during the busiest weekends. We then work with the event organisers several months in advance, to make sure that the rally schedule is aligned with our broadcast plans. A couple of months before the rally starts, we then recce the event to work out where and how to film, and to spot any potential problems. Maybe we would need to request that the stop line of a stage is moved by a few hundred metres to accommodate our trucks and equipment at the end, for example. After that, it’s down to us…”

What is your role during the live coverage?
GR: “I am seated between the live TV director, Serge Ruyssinck, and Jean-Pierre Nicolas, the IRC Motorsport Development Manager and former international rally-winning driver. The live TV director will select and switch the different sources (Cineflex on the helicopter, onboard cameras and cameras on the ground with interviews) to put together the most beautiful TV show. My job is to listen to Jean-Pierre’s advice about the sporting issues during the stage in order to decide which car we’ll follow and for how long to ensure we let the viewers always watch what is the most important action. It means that I have to coordinate consequently the moves of the helicopter and the selection of the onboard cameras that we receive in the outdoor broadcast vehicle. We will cover three cars out of 10 at the same time but not more. On a 30-kilometre stage there are more than 10 cars together in the stage so the choice is pretty wide. But most of all, the story telling of the stage has to be clear and smooth to allow the viewers to understand what’s going on when we switch from one car to another.”

EUROSPORT’S TOUR DE CORSE COVERAGE IN NUMBERS
Five stages shown live
Five hours of live broadcasting
80 personnel on site in Corsica
20 different commentators, in 20 different languages
Two stage side cameras
One Cineflex helicopter
Ten cars with onboard cameras
Two cameras at the end of the stage, one with a reporter
Seven trucks
Ten post-production staff

IRC Highlights ahead in 2012:
• Petter Solberg, who drives for Ford in the World Rally Championship, will enter his own team in the IRC, fielding Patrik Flodin, from Sweden, on seven events from Tour de Corse onwards.
• The all-female team of Bulgarian Ekaterina Stratieva and Carmen Poenaru of Romania will contest the IRC 2WD Cup.
• Andreas Mikkelsen, from Norway, will defend his IRC title this season with ŠKODA’s UK importer. The 22-year-old switched to rallying when injury cut short his promising career as a downhill skier.
• Dream Team Ukraine will enter two M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000s on all rounds of the IRC. Oleksandr Saliuk and Oleksii Tamrazov will represent the squad.
• A team from the Middle East will compete in the IRC this season with Rashid Al-Ketbi driving a ŠKODA backed by the Skydive Dubai experience centre.
• Renault has registered as an IRC manufacturer for 2012: its Mégane N4 European Challenge will support six rounds of the series, including Tour de Corse when emerging French star Robert Consani will be one of the contenders for victory.
• Peugeot Sport will provide technical support to rising stars Mathieu Arzeno and Craig Breen on at least four rounds.
– Credit: IRC Media.