TCR International Series 2017 – Bahrain (Rounds 3-4)

There’s obviously still a long way to go…but this is what can happen when things get left until the last minute, isn’t it? I mean, one of the greatest things about motorsport as a whole is the sheer variety of different styles of racing, and so it’s perfectly understandable for drivers to keep their options open as long as possible before deciding on their next career move, but at the same time, there’s always a chance that even the defending champion of a particular series can find it tricky to get onto the grid if the ideal package isn’t there…and that seems to be exactly what’s happened here. Of course, the fact this is still a relatively new series means it’s difficult to work out where they would go next, and so staying put (albeit with a new team or car) is sometimes the only option, but, while a good driver can make it work once, it’s quite another thing to pull it off twice on the trot, and, although past achievements at least have to be considered, in reality, they count for very little in this game, and for once, it looks like we might have something different on the cards. The level of competition is higher than ever in the 2017 TCR International Series…and, at this early stage, it’d be a brave man to predict who’ll come out on top.

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WTCC 2017 – Race of Italy (Rounds 3-4)

Sure, you wouldn’t exactly call this a new era just yet, but, when you look at it…this really does feel different, doesn’t it? I mean, when it gets to an international level such as this, one of the great things about motorsport is the fierce competition between fully-funded, manufacturer-backed teams, but sometimes, you get a situation that’s the complete opposite, with one particular outfit constantly holding the advantage, and so, as daft as it might sound, it’s sometimes best to let them go. Of course, there’s always a chance that some of the world’s top driving talent might be left with nowhere to go if this happens – and, really, that’s exactly what’s happened here – but, while that doesn’t say much about the general appeal of the series, it does at least give the rest of the field a chance to move out of their shadow and take up the mantle of being the ones to catch…and that surely can’t be a bad thing, can it? The 2017 FIA World Touring Car Championship might not look quite as strong on paper as it has in the recent past…but it already looks as though it could be the closest season for a while.

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Supercars 2017 – Phillip Island 500 (Rounds 5-6)

We knew it was going to be close…but that was taking it a bit too literally, really, wasn’t it? Of course, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that, as entertaining and exciting as it might be, motorsport at any level is dangerous, and, while things have moved on significantly in recent years to try and make it as safe as possible, there’s always an inherent risk that racing drivers (who, with the greatest of respect, are an entirely different breed) take whenever they go out on track, and sometimes…that risk can backfire in a pretty big way. I mean, thankfully, incidents like that don’t tend to happen too much these days (which is a real testament to just how much things have improved), and, while these are undoubtedly some of the most talented drivers around, it’d be harsh to say they should have been able to avoid something that was almost totally out of their control, and so the most important thing now is to try and make sure it doesn’t happen again. The battle for glory in the 2017 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship might still be in its early stages, but unfortunately…there’s only been one topic of conversation so far.

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BTCC 2017 – Donington Park (Rounds 4-6)

It was always going to take a lot to match what had gone before…but that wasn’t exactly a bad start, was it? I mean, as a whole, it generally doesn’t take much to see just how competitive motorsport can be, but, while pretty much any series is capable of producing the odd season of classic racing, being able to deliver to such a consistently high standard year in, year out takes some doing, and, without a shadow of a doubt…this championship is right up there with the very, very best. To be honest, it’s not hard to see why it’s been held in such high regard for so long – after all, while the names, faces and even the rules have changed significantly over the years, you’d have to look very, VERY hard to find anything that comes anywhere near when it comes to close, no-holds-barred, bumper-to-bumper racing – and, if the opening exchanges are anything to go by (which, of course, they almost certainly won’t be), it’s already shaping up to be yet another absolute cracker. The 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship has begun in typically frantic fashion…and it’s only going to get better from here.

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WTCC 2017 – Race of Morocco (Rounds 1-2)

Well, if ever they wanted a chance to prove what they can really do…this has got to be it, hasn’t it? I mean, yes, it’s not as if the potential wasn’t there before, but, in the world of motorsport, it’s amazing sometimes how easily even the very best teams and drivers can be made to look so incredibly ordinary when the pace-setters of a particular championship are producing such a high standard of performances that constantly forces them to play catch-up, and, when you look at the way things have turned out here over the last couple of years, it’s not exactly been much of a competition. However, things never stay the same for long in this business, and it’s nothing new for manufacturers to decide they want to try their hand at something different – or, in this case, go back to a familiar stomping ground – but, with the dominant force having departed at the height of their powers, there’s an open goal that needs filling…and there’s a fair few in contention to do just that. Despite everything that’s been going on away from the track, the 2017 FIA World Touring Car Championship is shaping up to be one of the most open in its history, and, to be honest, no one has any idea which way it’s going to go.

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TCR International Series 2017 – Georgia (Rounds 1-2)

At the risk of making myself look stupid once again…this couldn’t really get any better, could it? I mean, when this all came about for the first time less than three years ago, many people were quick to dismiss it as an unnecessary addition to the world of touring car racing – in fact, some questioned whether it would even see the light of day – but motorsport has an uncanny knack of throwing up its fair share of surprises…and few could have predicted how this was going to take off. Granted, it might still fall short in terms of pedigree and prestige compared to most other global championships at the minute, but everything’s in place for it to become even bigger and more popular in the coming years – an ever-increasing number of top-level drivers, cars from a wide variety of manufacturers (with technical parity being maintained to ensure the closest racing) and the regulations spreading like wildfire to national and regional series around the world – and, to be honest, it’s hard to believe that it won’t happen. On paper, the 2017 TCR International Series looks to be shaping up as the closest of its short history so far…but there’s still one man that everyone will be trying to catch.

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Supercars 2017 – Tasmania SuperSprint (Rounds 3-4)

Well, talk about starting as you mean to go on…that simply couldn’t have gone any better, could it? I mean, it doesn’t take much to work out that success doesn’t come easily in the world of motorsport at any level, but strangely, whenever a new season rolls around, there seems to be even more pressure than usual on the defending champion of a particular series to prove that their triumph wasn’t just a fluke and simply carry on as before, and, as a result, it can sometimes take a while for the results to pick up…which, in many ways, was what made this even more impressive. OK, so it wasn’t entirely unexpected – particularly when you consider the previous record of the team and the superior performance of their car – but you can only beat what’s in front of you, and, while success in the past doesn’t automatically mean it’s going to happen again in the future, it certainly makes it a lot easier when the competition is this strong. The dominant force of recent times have started ominously in the 2017 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, and, even at this early stage…it looks like the competition don’t have any answers.

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BTCC 2017 – Brands Hatch (Indy) (Rounds 1-3)

Now, I know this kind of thing gets repeated virtually every year, but it’s probably true this time around…this really could turn out to be something special, couldn’t it? Of course, in motorsport, it’s always a risk to build up the prospects of a particular championship before a wheel has even been turned, only to then find that the on-track action falls short of those high expectations once the season gets underway, but, having forged a formidable reputation as one of the most competitive series around, I suspect that’s not going to be the case here. I mean, granted, the big-budget racing of years gone by might be little more than a distant memory, but, with a huge range of cars and manufacturers on view and tightly controlled regulations that help to keep the action as close as possible, the formula has remained pretty much the same ever since – after all, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it – and, when you add an ever-growing list of driving talent into the mix…there’s plenty to get excited about. Sure, the 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship is going to have to go some way to match the drama of the past few years, but, on paper…it could be even better than before.

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WTCC 2017 – Season Preview


While some of its global appeal may have been lost, as one of the best tintop series around, the FIA World Touring Car Championship still has a reputation for incredibly close action – this is the field at the start of the Main Race in Russia in 2016 – but, with the dominant force of recent years now out of the way…who’s going to step up and steal the glory in 2017?

I don’t want this to sound negative…but it doesn’t exactly fill you with confidence, does it? Granted, things never stand still for too long in the world of motorsport, and this even extends to championships themselves, with new categories popping up all the time at the expense of other, more well-established series, but you tend to expect, don’t you, that major international championships would be immune from the threat of being scrapped, and yet that’s exactly the situation we’ve got here. I mean, for years, it’s hardly been much of a contest in terms of the destination of the overall title – indeed, it was sometimes clear for everyone to see even before a wheel had been turned – and, as a result, it was inevitable that there were going to have consequences sooner or later in terms of either the size of the grid or the variety of the machinery on show (two absolute essentials for a good saloon car series) and, after years of predictions that this might happen…we’re now starting to see the results. The 2017 FIA World Touring Car Championship kicks off this weekend with some major questions being asked about its future, and, at present…it doesn’t seem as though anyone has the answers.

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Supercars 2017 – Clipsal 500 Adelaide (Rounds 1-2)

OK, so the final outcome wasn’t much of a surprise…but it wasn’t quite as many had expected either, was it? I mean, whichever way you look at it, the world of motorsport is difficult enough to succeed in at the best of times, particularly at a high level like this – after all, only one driver can win the title each year – and so, for those that fall short in their pursuit of championship glory, it can prove tricky for them to make a name for themselves in the sport. However, reputation only counts for so much in racing, and, while it must be satisfying for a driver to know they’ve delivered the goods in the past, titles aren’t decided on previous achievements – the standard of performances (and, ultimately, the quantity of points) in that season are what matter, and it’s hard to argue that whoever comes out on top will have earned their success, regardless of what they’ve achieved before. Put simply, anyone can beat anyone in the 2017 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, but there’s one combination they’re all trying to catch, and the question on many people’s lips this time is…can they do it again?

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