Middlesbrough based media company XCel Broadcast is living life in the fast lane after securing a $1.5million contract to kit out and produce live TV coverage of a prestigious six race Asia supercar racing series that takes in four Formula 1 racing circuits.
XCel will supply full outside broadcast TV facilities for the six race Blancpain GT Asia Series and broadcast the action live around the world for the next two years. The action starts at Malaysia’s F1 Sepang Circuit in April with further races being held at both F1 tracks in Japan (Suzuka and Fuji) before moving on to the Shanghai F1 track in China where Briton Lewis Hamilton dominated last year’s F1 Grand Prix. XCel will also supply to two further races at Buriram in Thailand and Zhejiang in China.
The Teesside based outfit will fly the equivalent of twice round the globe this year to install and operate track-side and pit lane cameras, commentary box facilities, control rooms and satellite uplinks as it produces live TV coverage of all six events. It is also helping negotiate coverage agreements with TV networks for the race.
Utilising a 60 strong team of technical and production staff for each race, the facility will broadcast the action around the world providing everything that will be seen and heard on TV and internet screens, from TV pictures, to commentary to the race graphics and timing clock.
XCel Managing Director Dave Roberts says, “This is a real coup for Teesside. The Blancpain GT Asia Series is a very high-profile event on the motorsports calendar and to think Teesside will be responsible for the live TV pictures bouncing around the world from iconic F1 circuits is fantastic.”
Mike Scott, Head of Television for SRO Motorsports Group who own the competition says, “XCel carried out a great job in Malaysia producing the Sepang 12 Hours events over the past couple of years so naturally we were delighted to turn to them when the opportunity arose with the Blancpain GT Asia Series. The fact they’re based in the north east of England is immaterial, it’s the quality of their work that’s important to us. We are delighted to have them on board”.
The Blancpain GT Asia Series is an FIA sanctioned series of races for GT3 and GT4 supercars. Being a former Vice President of Asian TV network Fox Sports, Middlesbrough born Roberts is well aware of the unique operating conditions that come in Asia, saying, “In 2015 in Malaysia a camera just 20 yards from me was struck by lightning while we were on air. This took out half of our track cameras so we had to work through the storm just to get a
few of them working again. It’s probably the hairiest experience
I’ve ever worked in.”
“The working conditions will be tough; however it’s fantastic to think we have again been chosen by SRO Motorsports and we’ll be flying the Teesside flag in the glitz and glamour of professional motor racing.”
Roberts adds, “Hopefully other Teesside firms can also be inspired to go for it and push for contracts in distant markets. In our case being 7,000 miles away from some of the racing circuits meant we had to jump a few hurdles, but if you have the skills, the talent and the determination, you can succeed anywhere.”
The full calendar of races is,
- April 14-15 Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia
- May 12-13 Chang International Circuit, Thailand
- June 30-July 1 Suzuka International Circuit, Japan
- July 21-22 Fuji Speedway, Japan
- September 22-23 Shanghai International Circuit, China
- October 13-14 Zhejiang Circuit, China