Lagardère Sports brings Saudi Arabia’s first international motorsport event, Race of Champions, to life

In the year that women will finally be able to take to the roads without fear of arrest, imprisonment and fines in the country of Saudi Arabia, Race of Champions (ROC) 2018 is also set to hit the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh this weekend, on 2-3 February.

The 2018 Race of Champions will be the 29th running of the event, and it is set to become the first-ever international motorsport competition in Saudi Arabia. Director of media production at Lagardère Sports, Paul Haines, spoke to SVG Europe about how the company is approaching this prestigious racing event as host broadcaster.

Haines stated: “This is bringing top level motorsport to Saudi Arabia. This level of event has never been held here before and we are bringing a new kind of motorsport production to the country.”

eSport goes trackside in Riyadh

This new kind of motorsport includes innovations in social media for viewers, both trackside and at home, said Haines, who explained that eSports is set to feature heavily in the weekend’s excitement: “For the first time there will be a new event within the event called e-Roc which will pit leading SIM racers against actual racing drivers both on SIM racers and on the track. This will be streamed live on Facebook and Twitch.”

The Facebook live and Twitch streams of the e-Roc SIM racing will run on Friday from 12:45-13:45 GMT (15:45-16:45 local) and a ROC chat show, again streamed on Facebook live and Twitch will play on Saturday at 10:15-10:45 GMT (13:15-13;45 local).

Production attention to detail

Lagardère Sports is producing blanket coverage of this event, with all live broadcast and streamed coverage of the event. The live broadcast hours for the ROC Nations Cup is Friday 2 February at 17:00-20:00 GMT (20:00-23:00 local time) and for the main ROC event on Saturday 13:00-16:00 GMT (16:00-19:00 local). Highlights are being edited by Whisper Productions for broadcast and distribution after the event.

The host broadcaster is using a plethora of camera to ensure viewers get to feel every turn and bump of the track, said Haines: “We have 16 cameras covering the track action including Spidercam, jib and super-slo mo cameras, mini-cams, plus a drone for post-production and another 30 on-board cameras that are mounted on the various different cars the drivers will use over the course of the event that will use creative angles for beauty shots.”

Local companies join the fold

The main challenge in working in this venue, said Haines, “comes from working in a new region where international standard events other than football are not usually held”. Interestingly, Lagardère Sports is working with a number of local companies to help get the show on the road, he noted. “We are using a local OB provider, Alamiya. We are using them because they are the most experienced supplier with the best equipment and crew in the region and have worked in the King Fahd stadium many times as they are the host broadcaster for most high level Saudi football matches.

“Aside from Alamiya, other key suppliers are AMP who provide the on-board cameras and wireless RF technology, and Cloudbass who provide the on-screen graphics,” he added. Cloudbass uses data and timing provided by TSL. “Both companies are specialists in motorsport and have delivered on ROC many times in the past,” noted Haines.

In all around 60 people will be involved in delivering the production. Haines said: “Some of the technical personnel are local but all of the senior production staff are hired in by Lagardère and are very experienced in both motorsport and previous editions of ROC.”

The live talent team will be led by Andrew Coley and Neil Cole on commentary, with Jennie Gow and David Croft on presentation and interviewing drivers. The world’s fastest SIM racer, Rudy Van Buren, will add his expertise to the e-Roc commentary.

Tune into Sky Sports in the UK to get your racing fix this weekend.

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