Those lamenting the lack of televised World Rally Championship coverage will weep openly when they discover the 2009 season is back on U.S. television in snow-plowing, dirt-drifting, spectator-dodging high definition on Discovery's HD Theater.
The 2009 FIA World Rally Championship kicks off October 4th with a day of previews before starting with Rally Ireland. Check out the preview below and make sure to attach a racing harness to your La-Z-Boy.
HD THEATER ANNOUNCES 2009 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
PROGRAMMING SCHEDULE STARTING SUNDAY, OCTOBER 4
(Silver Spring, MD) – HD Theater expands its high-octane programming by reintroducing American audiences to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). Starting Sunday, October 4, HD Theater launches its coverage with six new hours of action-packed rally racing programming – culminating with the U.S. premiere of 2009's first WRC event, RALLY IRELAND, at 8 PM ET. The block of programming will immerse HD Theater's audience into the adrenaline-fuelled world of the WRC.
The FIA World Rally Championship is an epic motorsport adventure, pitting man and machine against nature. Over a grueling 10 month schedule, the world's greatest drivers and the most advanced rally cars take on some of the most challenging terrain that nature has to offer. Across twelve events spanning three continents, biting cold, driving rain and scorching heat combine with dirt, asphalt, gravel, snow and ice roads to present an electrifying, high-speed challenge that is unmatched in motorsports. These drivers assault treacherous mountain passes, winding back country roads and narrow forest paths at breakneck speeds exceeding 120 mph. HD Theater presents their exclusive U.S. coverage of the 2009 WRC with the following programming schedule: "World Rally Madness" Programming Block Sunday, October 4 from 3-9 PM ET 3 PM: GREATEST STAGES This episode profiles the most challenging events from the history of rallying. 4 PM: DARING DRIVES Viewers ride along as the legends of the WRC are pushed to the limit and beyond by some of the most spectacular and technical stages on the rally racing circuit. 5 PM: GREATEST CARS The machines are the stars of this episode, which showcases the greatest rally cars of all time. 6 PM: TOP TEN SPECTACULAR CRASHES Even the best make mistakes and in the WRC, those mistakes can be stunning. This program counts down the most exciting crashes in rallying history. 7 PM: 2009 WRC SEASON PREVIEW This episode introduces viewers to the drivers, manufacturers and events that will make up the 2009 FIA World Rally Championship.
8 PM: RALLY IRELAND
The 2009 WRC kicks off with a monumental challenge: 217 miles of impossibly narrow, rain-slicked country roads through both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. These tight and serpentine stages take drivers through the Sligo Mountains and Fermanagh Lakelands where, in places, the narrow roads are little more than the width of a car.
Sunday, October 11 from 8-9 PM ET
As an all-snow event, RALLY NORWAY is a technical challenge for drivers, who must account for the snow and ice using steel-spiked tires. Roadside snow-banks offer a cushion for the lack of grip, but may be as dangerous as they are helpful. Hamar, Norway is home for this rally, which runs through the same mountains as the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in nearby Lillehammer.
FXPRO CYPRUS RALLY
Sunday, October 18 from 8-9 PM ET
Based on the south side of Cyprus, this mixed-surface rally combines asphalt and gravel stages to crown the FxPro CYPRUS RALLY champion. The Troodos Mountains challenge drivers as they take on the twists and turns of mountain roads and gravel paths during the three days of action.
VODAFONE RALLY DE PORTUGAL
Sunday, October 25 from 8-9 PM ET
Portugal's long rallying tradition is on display during the Vodafone RALLY DE PORTUGAL, a gravel event that is widely considered one of the most notorious and difficult rallies on the schedule. Both the Algarve and Alentejo regions host stages in Southern Portugal, as this event attracts some of the largest and most unruly crowds within the series.
Sunday, November 1 from 8-9 PM ET
With the series' first trip outside of Europe, RALLY ARGENTINA is held in the area around Villa Carlos Paz in the heart of the Cordobese Sierras on narrow, sloped roads best known for their spectacular water splashes. The high-speed action takes place across open plains featuring sandy river crossings and high-altitude landscapes that resemble the surface of the moon.
RALLY D'ITALIA SARDEGNA
Sunday, November 8 from 8-9 PM ET
Sardinia is now home to the RALLY D'ITALIA, where the stages are made up of fine and sandy gravel that is surprisingly fast, given the course's tight and narrow nature. The stunning landscape for the opening two days of the rally crosses Olbia-Tempio, Nuoro, Sassari and Goceano before the competition heads north to the opulent Costa Smerelda region.
ACROPOLIS RALLY OF GREECE
Sunday, November 15 from 8-9 PM ET
As one of the longest-standing events in world rallying, ACROPOLIS RALLY OF GREECE is a mix of rough, curvy mountain stages with blistering heat and choking dust. The undersides of the car take a pounding from the rocks hurled up by the wheels, and tire wear is an especially big issue for teams to overcome at this event.
ORLEN RALLY POLAND
Sunday, November 22 from 8-9 PM ET
After not being included in the WRC for over 35 years, Poland's most prestigious motorsport event celebrates its 66th anniversary with a return to the top level of rallying. The Mazurian Lakes District provides an exceptional backdrop to these spectacular gravel stages, where the WRC regular drivers are challenged by experienced Polish drivers racing in their backyard.
NESTE OIL RALLY FINLAND
Sunday, November 29 from 8-9 PM ET
As one of the biggest annual events in Scandinavia with over 500,000 spectators, Neste Oil RALLY FINLAND features high-speed runs along tree-lined tracks, peppered with high-flying jumps that demand absolute commitment. Located in central Finland, this rally requires efficient technique to cope with the high speeds and mammoth jumps that litter the loose-surfaced gravel stages.
REPCO RALLY AUSTRALIA
Sunday, December 6 from 8-9 PM ET
WRC heads down under to the new base of Repco RALLY AUSTRALIA in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. The hard-packed gravel stages located in the Kyogle, Murwillumbah and Mullumbimby regions will be a new and unfamiliar challenge compared to the rally's historic stages on red earth and ball-bearing-like gravel roads near Perth.
RACC RALLYE DE ESPAÑA Sunday, December 13 from 8-9 PM ET Providing some of the fastest stages of the series, the sweeping asphalt roads of the Tarragona region southwest of Barcelona play home to the RACC RALLYE DE ESPAÑA. As the penultimate round of the WRC series, this rally plays a critical role in the overall championship with only one event left in the schedule. RALLY GB Sunday, December 20 from 8-9 PM ET As the final rally of the season, RALLY GB is one of the oldest rallies in the world and is hosted in Cardiff, Wales. This spectator-friendly event runs through gravel forest roads that often become wet and slippery. The event also features stages on the exposed military land to the north of Brecon, which is prone to fog that can wreak havoc on drivers' ability to navigate turns. FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP programming is produced by International Sportsworld Communicators Ltd - A North One Television Company. For HD Theater, Sean McKnight is executive producer, Bob Scanlon is vice president of production and development, and Clark Bunting is president and general manager. About FIA World Rally Championship: In 2008, WRC was covered by 188 countries via 228 broadcasters, with a total audience of over 633 million plus 12 million visitors to wrc.com. 2009 will see a total of 12 rallies staged across the world in Ireland, Norway, Cyprus, Portugal, Argentina, Italy, Greece, Poland, Finland, Australia, Spain and Great Britain. For more information please visit www.wrc.com. About HD Theater: The first 24-hour high-definition network in the U.S. to broadcast all of its content in brilliant 1080i and 5.1 digital surround sound, HD Theater offers compelling real-world and motorized content from a wide range of categories including adventure, technology, nature and world culture – all designed to provide viewers with the highest-quality television experience available. As one of the most widely-distributed high-definition networks available in the U.S., HD Theater brings its programming to life in a kaleidoscope of dazzling color, sound and sights.