Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz says his company is keen to 'tap into the potential' of the World Rally Championship when it takes over the promotion of the series.
Red Bull Media House will work with the Sportsman Group on the media and promotional rights for the series having agreed a deal with the FIA earlier this year, after the series went through the 2012 season without a promoter following the demise of North One Sport.
Speaking to the FIA's new magazine AUTO
, Mateschitz explained part of the reason why Red Bull had been keen to take over the promotion of the series and he insisted it was a move that had been carefully thought out to benefit all parties.
“We've been following rallying as well as all the other big motor sport series for many years,” he said. “In Austria we've been part of the national rally scene for over 20 years, and Raimund Baumschlager has been one of our athletes since Red Bull first launched. In the past few years our focus has been on Sebastien Loeb and on the Dakar Rally, which we were involved in with VW.
“Our decision to get involved in the WRC was primarily based on the interests of Red Bull Media House, firstly to exploit the series for Red Bull's own media such as Servus TV or Red Bull TV, and secondly for the distribution of global rights. Red Bull's involvement with the various drivers and teams is independent of that, so there can be no conflicts of interest.
“It's true that we believe the potential of the WRC to be bigger than it has appeared in the media in recent years. We will try to uncover this potential and tap into it. Only time will tell how this pans out in practice and how successful our efforts will be.”
Mateschitz added that it was important for the series to look forwards and not back and insisted that manufacturer teams weren't vital to its success going forwards – with the likes of MINI and Ford only set to be represented by privateer teams in 2013 and Citroen running a factory programme with extensive backing from Abu Dhabi.
“I don't think it makes sense to relive the past,” he replied when asked is he wanted to recapture the spirit of the 1980s, when the WRC featured longer events, iconic Group B machinery and big-name, big personality drivers. “Rally driving should definitely not be any more dangerous than it already is. Big personality drivers are always important in any motor sport, which of course also means you can cover the various drivers' profiles in the media and set priorities accordingly.
“Of course, a broad range of marques is important to the WRC; it doesn't really matter whether they're works teams or privateer teams backed by works outfits. The important thing is that the teams and their drivers should perform well, are competitive and put on a good and exciting show.”