Asia-Pacific Rally Championship – A New Direction

The FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship is moving to keep pace with the increasing interest in motor sport in the region and to secure its position as the world’s second most prestigious rally championship.

At the APRC Working Group meeting held last week in Kuala Lumpur discussion focused on the successful commercial development of the Championship. With rounds now in such large consumer markets as China, Indonesia and Japan, it was agreed that, to more effectively market the APRC, a formal commercial structure should be immediately established. If approved by the FIA, this move will enable the Working Group to enter into television and sponsorship agreements, the proceeds from which will greatly benefit the APRC.

Recognising the need to attract the cream of the region’s competitors plus manufacturers and more top European teams, measures were also implemented to raise the level of individual rounds, as well as the overall Championship. To this end, Murray Brown’s appointment as Championship Co-ordinator, with a brief to create a more economical yet appealing APRC, was also confirmed.

Brown will not only assist organisers of each round but will also promote the championship to manufacturers, potential entrants and sponsors, alike. In addition, he will continue his role as logistics advisor. At the meeting he reported strong interest in the 2005 Championship from European-based teams and from at least one car manufacturer.

With such varied and exotic venues as New Caledonia with its pristine beaches and ‘red’ roads, Rotorua with its geysers and famous Motu stages, Hokkaido with its volcanoes and fast, narrow forestry roads, and Thailand with its vibrant culture and sandy village roads, the APRC certainly provides a golden opportunity for television broadcasters.

At the meeting New Zealand-based Power Pictures reported that, in 2004 the television coverage from each event reached a potential audience of 280 million viewers worldwide, with an advertising value of US$1.5 million for the 76-minute TV series. Not unexpectedly, interest in the 2005 television package is very high with, amongst others, ISC keen to include the APRC rounds in a series of programmes titled, ‘Rallying around the World’ to be distributed worldwide. Members of the Working Group agreed to again entrust Power Pictures with production of the 2005 APRC programmes.

The effects of decisions made in Kuala Lumpur will be felt from the very first round of the 2005 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, Australia’s Rally of Canberra to be run on 22-24 April.