Steve Rider and Louise Goodman will present ITV's live Sunday afternoon television coverage of this year's HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship, the network has confirmed. Ben Edwards and former BTCC Champion Tim Harvey will continue their roles as race commentators.
Rider's and Goodman's presence will serve to further enhance the championship's profile in living rooms across the UK. Rider has been one of TV's best known sports 'anchormen' for some 30 years, while Goodman has also become a popular household name thanks to her Formula 1 duties this past decade with ITV.
Both are huge BTCC fans as well. In particular, Rider (pictured) was one of the prime movers behind the BTCC's regular terrestrial TV slots in the Eighties and Nineties, co-presenting the coverage with legendary sports commentator Murray Walker.
Rider commented: "It's particularly satisfying to be involved in a sport which is always strong on storylines, personalities, humour and controversy. The chemistry the BTCC delivers is unsophisticated, so makes it easily accessible for a casual motor sport audience which is of great importance. Indeed, the BTCC is perhaps the one series that has brought the general public flooding back into race circuits across the UK and very probably also breathed new life into some of those circuits.
"The racing is fierce and non-stop, there is overtaking race after race and the personalities are as strong as ever. You stick on the BTCC and are instantly entertained. It is also a great environment in which to work - the drivers and teams are very approachable and really value the importance of the TV viewers as well as the trackside audience.
"With that in mind, it is worth re-emphasising ITV's continuing and comprehensive commitment to the championship - if you add up the hours of motor sport coverage on mainstream television in the UK then the BTCC will receive more air time than any other form of motor sport. I think it's fantastic that ITV, as a major terrestrial television network, is staying loyal to the UK's top motor racing championship."
Goodman is equally enthusiastic about returning to work at BTCC race events - her knowledge of the subject and excellent working relationships with the star drivers made her grid interviews just prior to races compelling viewing. when she last presented coverage of the series in 2007.
She added: "The BTCC never fails to deliver. I'm not just a TV presenter, I'm also a motor sport fan and this series consistently produces the kind of top class entertainment and high standards of competition that all motor sport fans love. As a TV reporter, it's a very accessible series to work in. The teams are open and friendly; I can take the viewers right to the heart of the action so they can hear the news first-hand... and it can get a little controversial, too, so there's always plenty to talk about!"
Meanwhile, Edwards and Harvey will continue as commentating partners in the BTCC for a seventh consecutive season. Edwards said: "Our roles, as ever, will be to bring the viewers into what is going on and get them wrapped up in it - and with the BTCC our jobs are made a lot easier as there's always action, excitement and unpredictability. It is pure entertainment. You're calling it one moment only for something else to be happening on another screen. And Tim of course is always worth listening to - he's a past BTCC Champion so is never short of an opinion!"
Harvey, who won the BTCC title in 1992, said: "It's the easiest motor racing commentary job in the world because it's just action all the time. For the viewers at home, it's full of very interesting drivers and different makes of cars while the BTCC's sporting regulations, which include reverse grids and weight penalties, ensure the best drivers have to overtake so there has to be passing and a bit of panel scraping. It is a pleasure to commentate on it and, hopefully, my past experiences of being in just about every conceivable situation the BTCC throws up also gives a further insight for viewers."