Jake | Thursday 7th March 2013 | Rally

Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC

With no great fanfare – only a vague tweet from Matt Salisbury put me on to it – the World Rally Championship finally returns to UK TV screens, after no deal was in place for the start of the season.

The facts: 65 minutes of Rally Mexico highlights will be broadcast on ITV4 on Tuesday 12th March at 5.50pm, repeated at 10.00am Saturday 16th March.

Which is pretty good news, all told: not only is it on UK TV, it’s on free-to-air. It’s a couple of days after the end of the rally, not exactly in a prime time slot, and it’s not clear whether it’s a long-term deal or a one-off. But we have to start somewhere.

And we should be optimistic of better coverage – just look at the new BRDC Formula 4 Championship. That’s a brand new national junior single-seater championship, and has secured an hour-long dedicated show, in a “prime-time Sunday evening slot”, the week after each of its eight race meetings. It’s a fantastic commitment to motorsport from both MSV and ITV in getting that deal done. It makes you wonder whether that sort of exposure could have helped the likes of F2 or British F3.

Which brings us back to the WRC – which is, lest we forget, one of only three FIA world championships. Fingers crossed discussions are ongoing between ITV and commercial rights holders Red Bull Media House for something bigger and better.

UPDATE: ITV has confirmed to Sport On The Box that we can expect similar coverage for the rest of the season: an hour on early Tuesday evening, with a Saturday morning repeat.

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