Exclusive: DH1 interview with Raymond from Freecaster
Following on from the announcement last week that Freecaster are to be involved in a new downhill race series for 2012, DH1, we ask the man behind it a few questions.
Last week news spread on the Internet Superhighway that Raymond Dulieu from Freecaster was involved in a new downhill race series, DH1.
We asked him a few questions to find out more.
Dirt: Firstly do you think there is room in the downhill season for another race series?
Ray: DH1 was initially created to respond to a demand from the team managers. I think there is room for another Pro series. UCI has 7 World Cups, add to that the World Championships and the National Championships, the pro riders are looking at 9 events. DH1 will have 6 races in 2012 and one of them could be an event they already attend anyway. But even if our events are all new, that means 15 races for the year. Add to it 3 other events the riders might do such as Wheels of Speed or Crankworx and the pros are looking at 18 races per year. Is that a lot? That's not my call to make but DH1 was created partly to respond to a demand from several team managers for something new in DH.
Do you have dates and venues confirmed yet?
We don't have dates and venues confirmed as such yet. Here is why. First we have till 16th October to submit our dates to UCI to be on their calendar thanks to the UCI allowing us to make a late entry. Secondly, we need to agree dates that suit the organiser’s, that make sense for the teams, that don't conflict with UCI World Cups and with the iXS series. Finally we need to agree with organisers about sponsors to avoid conflicts between the events' and DH1 sponsors. This is a process that takes time but what I can say is that we have had a lot of requests from prominent race organisers, some of them having staged very successful UCI races in the past and that we will have very high quality tracks. Tracks that are of World Cup / World Championship level.
Will there be any clash with the UCI World Cup dates?
There will be no clash with UCI World Cups or with most iXS races. Regarding iXS, we might on one occasion be on the same date but we will be in a different country.
Apart from Santa Cruz and CG have any more big teams committed to the series?
Santa Cruz Syndicate and CG are the only teams that signed a document we submitted for review prior to 30th September. The idea of that document was to make sure that DH1 was responding to a demand of the teams and that we wouldn't motivate organisers and sponsors for a Pro series and run the risk to end up with no top riders. A lot of teams have expressed full support for DH1 yet they first want to finalize their team budgets and their rider contracts before signing any document. Teams are actually waiting for our calendar and have asked that we don't do more than 5-6 races. We have thus shifted our focus on the events now. Once the calendar is announced teams can structure their budgets and I'm confident that we will have a fantastic line-up. We are offering great tracks, HD LIVE coverage and substantial prize-money. The fans and the media certainly seem to be as excited about DH1 as we are.
You mention 8 HD cameras, will there be a live stream or will it be edited highlights? Is Rob Warner involved?
8 HD cameras are the minimum to cover the races. In many cases we will have more and for one race we're even considering filming with a helicopter. Our multi-camera feed will be streamed LIVE and free worldwide. Rob Warner will be involved except on dates when DH1 clash with Red Bull X Fighters events, which he has prior commitments to.
Will there be any restrictions for media (video/photography) such as us to cover the events?
I don't foresee any restrictions except those set for the safety of the riders or the comfort of the viewers at events. We want to work together with the media and offer them the best working conditions.
Can you tell us more about your proposed race format?
The idea is to have 20 seeded pros that have their start guaranteed on the Sunday afternoon race. To those 20 pros we will add the top 10 finishers from the Sunday morning race. These could be pros or amateurs. The idea is not to have 80 starters for the Sunday afternoon race so that the LIVE coverage can cover hopefully the entire race runs. In order to do that we need to space out the start intervals between the riders to allow enough time for the entire descent. If a track is 3 minutes 30 seconds long for example, you need over 105 minutes for 30 riders. With 80 that is not feasible.
Thus the program involves a Saturday amateur race. Of that race 30 compete on the Sunday morning in a first final event. From that event, 10 are then qualified to run on Sunday afternoon against the 20 seeded pros.
How about prize money?
We have set the prize money at 11,000 EUR per race and over 20,000 EUR for the entire series. This is more than the World Cup as DH1 doesn't yet carry the same prestige and the prospect of earning money will be important for the pros. Should we be successful in developing DH1, I want to further focus on ways to increase team revenues as is the case in sports such as F1. It is normal that the ones who perform benefit from the growth of the events they contribute to establish.
Does this mean that Freecaster will not be involved in streaming the 2012 World Cup season?
Freecaster would like to stream LIVE the 2012 UCI World Cup and World Championships and we have submitted a proposal to UCI. I understand that they are talking to various parties for 2012 and that an answer can be expected in November. From my perspective that is late as most sponsorship deals have to be signed early in the fall, hence the chance for us to successfully find the budget to cover the UCI series diminishes as the months go by.
What was the reason for not renewing the live streaming contract?
I decided not to renew the contract for a very simple reason, already at the conditions of the previous contract, webcasting the UCI World Cup was a money losing operation. We could have saved money by commentating from our studio rather than be on-site or by not doing course walks, etc. but we wanted to do things properly. For 2012, UCI has multiplied the overall cost by a factor of three without changing anything to the production set-up, it will still be 6 SD cameras and that is just unrealistic for us, hence we declined the opportunity.
Is there anything else you can tell us?
I'm very excited by the DH1 project. I'm working hard to make it happen but at the end of the day it depends from a lot of parties. I need to
• secure the best events at the right dates,
• secure the sponsorship to cover the costs of the series,
• have top teams competing regularly not just at the off event,
• gain the support of the MTB press to cover DH1
• deliver on the expectations of the fans for great racing and great coverage.
What would really help at this stage would be to see the DH1 Facebook fan page reach over 100,000 fans. That is important because that would be a strong argument towards potential sponsors. By the nature of the sport, it is impossible to quantify the audience and to explain to sponsors who our audience is. A strong Facebook fan base will give us numbers to talk about. Thus if fans want to see a change / evolution in DH MTB, it's simple, become a fan of www.facebook.com/dh1tv. It's a free and quick contribution towards the sport we are all passionate about.
Finally, I would kindly ask the fans to stop venting about the UCI. It's not constructive. As a governing body they might not do the best job for each discipline but does it really matter? They are at least doing something and have done so for many years. DH1 will collaborate with UCI as it will integrate their calendar and it is not our intention to be an alternative to the UCI world cup but more to demonstrate that things can be done differently and hopefully in the future, DH1 and the World Cup could contemplate an even closer co-operation. But first we need to demonstrate that we can do it.
So, take a second and become a fan of www.facebook.com/dh1tv