The new generation of more dramatic World Rally Cars are proving a massive hit with fans around the world according to early television viewing figures from WRC Promoter.
The first two rounds of the 2017 season - staged in Monte Carlo and Sweden - are shaping up to be among the most watched rallies in recent years, with a driver market shake-up and the latest era of more powerful rally cars the reason for the series' spiralling popularity.
"It comes as no surprise that people are really switching on to the 2017 World Rally Championship," said WRC Promoter's managing director Oliver Ciesla. "Before the season started, we knew we were in for a real treat, but the action we have seen so far has been simply incredible.
"We've already had some fantastic story lines: heartache for pace-setter Thierry Neuville in both Monte Carlo and Sweden, a debut win for Sébastien Ogier on his very first outing for M-Sport and then the dream for Jari-Matti Latvala and Toyota winning last time out in Sweden. "Honestly, these stories are making for great drama and incredible viewing. We wait with real interest for the quarterly global numbers, but already viewing figures are very encouraging from Monte Carlo and Sweden."
With live coverage on both BT Sport and Red Bull TV, a magazine programme on Spike and comprehensive post-produced highlights on Channel 5, UK audiences have never been offered such extensive terrestrial and satellite WRC coverage.
While viewers are spoilt for choice, the regular hour-long Channel 5 highlights programme screened at 7pm on Monday evenings immediately after all 13 rounds remains the easiest way for most fans to follow the spectacular action.
"Having a regular primetime slot on one of Britain's main television channels is a real tick in the box for us," confirmed Ciesla. "With Kris Meeke, Elfyn Evans and, of course, their Irish colleague Craig Breen featuring so heavily this year, Channel 5's coverage is perfect for them."
In addition to the event report, Channel 5's sister station Spike (available on Freeview) also runs a pre-event magazine show at 9am on the Saturday before each rally.
And rally enthusiasts have not long to wait to catch the next instalment of thrilling WRC excitement. The season's first gravel round blasts off later this week in Mexico with the two opening CDMX Street Stage presented by Michelin timed sectors staged in the iconic Zöcalo square (main below), made famous by the amazing helicopter stunts featured in the opening sequence to the James Bond movie Spectre.
UK fans, of course can catch the new look WRC live when the globe-trotting series comes to these shores for Dayinsure Wales Rally GB between 26-29 October.
The organisers of Dayinsure Wales Rally GB are delighted to announce that Conwy County Borough Council has extended its highly successful support for the UK's round of the FIA World Rally Championship.