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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GP3 Series 2017 – Season Preview


Despite having only been in existence for seven years, the GP3 Series has become arguably the best place to spot the next F1 superstar – this is the field of 2016 at the start of the feature race in Germany – and, with so many already having gone on to bigger and better things…who’ll join the roll of honour this time around?

OK, so it might not be the most spectacular series around…but it certainly does the job, doesn’t it? I mean, whichever way you look at it, the world of motorsport is incredibly difficult to get into at the best of times, and, while any aspiring racing driver worth their salt will be looking to make it to the very top, the reality is that they have to spend time in the junior ranks to prove their worth, but, with the top brass of Formula One teams watching on from the sidelines, there could hardly be a better shop window than this. However, there might well be problems on the horizon, and it’s nothing to do with the concept – in fact, the amount of talented drivers that have been produced in recent years shows just how successful things have been – but the changes that have gone on further up the single-seater ladder means it now suddenly looks out of sync, and, with some questioning whether it’ll even be around in the near future or not…the pressure’s on to see if they can come up with the answers. Despite all this, though, the GP3 Series is still one of the most prestigious championships in open-wheel racing, and, as the 2017 season prepares to burst into life this weekend…there’s plenty to get excited about.

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Formula One 2017 – Chinese Grand Prix (Round 2)

Sure, there’s still an awful long way to go, but at first glance…this is already looking a lot more promising, isn’t it? I mean, as far as most people are concerned, this is meant to be the absolute highest level of motorsport anywhere in the world, but it’s hard to be positive about a situation where two drivers from the same team are constantly battling it out for overall supremacy, and so something had to be done to turn the tide. Sure, there’s always an element of risk whenever a championship – especially one as high-profile as this – brings in a new set of rules (chiefly because no one really knows if they’re going to work or not), and, perhaps inevitably, some are going to get to grips with them quicker than others, but, when you consider the pattern of the last few seasons, it was a surprise to see them have such an immediate effect…and it looks as though the competition is going to be stronger than ever before. The most iconic name of them all has drawn first blood in the 2017 Formula One World Championship, and, for the first time in a long while…the pace-setters look like they’ve got a fight on their hands.

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WRC 2017 – Mexico (Round 3)

We all knew it was going to happen sooner or later, but even so…I don’t think anyone saw that one coming, did they? Whichever way you look at it, success in motorsport – particularly at an international level like this – is something that normally takes time to achieve, and, while it’s natural to try and aim for the best possible outcome in any case, it often pays to be a little more realistic and not try to run before you can walk in terms of getting results. I mean, it says a lot about just what a statement it was when even the team themselves – who probably have the highest expectations than anyone – were saying even before a wheel had been turned that their target of outright victories was still a way away from being fulfilled and not to expect too much, too soon, and, while I’m sure they’ll take it however it comes, I highly doubt even they thought this would happen so soon. The new boys have already well and truly made their mark on the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship season…and it’s all starting to warm up nicely.

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Formula One 2017 – Australian Grand Prix (Round 1)

OK, well…this is certainly going to take some getting used to, isn’t it? Granted, there’s always changes being made in the world of motorsport, and some are inevitably going to be bigger than others, but it’s not often you see one quite as momentous as this, with the genuine end of an era – and one that’s not even been played out on the track, at that – being executed in such a ruthlessly efficient fashion, and already, there are signs the future direction at the highest level of the sport is going to be significantly different to what’s gone before. However, for everything that’s gone on behind the scenes, the on-track action hasn’t escaped without alteration either – in fact, you could probably argue the sheer scale of the rule changes this year is the biggest for quite some time – and, with the usual changes of personnel adding another element to the already complicated mix…it’s anyone’s guess what’s going to happen next. There’s every reason to be excited about the 2017 Formula One World Championship, and, after so much talking over the winter…it’s time to write the first chapter.

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FIA Formula 2 2017 – Season Preview


After more than a decade as the main feeder series to Formula One, GP2 has now morphed into the FIA Formula Two Championship for the new season – this is the 2016 field at the start of the feature race in Austria – and so, with such a valuable prize potentially on offer…who’s going to be the one to watch in 2017?

Well, they’ve finally managed to get it done…but what exactly HAVE they done? I mean, normally in motorsport, whenever a new championship pops up, there often has to be something that little bit different about it compared to its direct rivals, but, when the biggest alteration is to the name of the series rather than the technical aspects of the cars on show…it does seem to be a fuss over nothing. Sure, for people who only follow motorsport in passing, without knowing about the various ins and outs of a particular series, it does make a little more sense to have a clear, ordered structure to the single-seater ladder that allows young drivers to move up through the ranks more easily, but, from a fan’s perspective, there wasn’t really all that much wrong with the old system, and it does beg the question whether this needed to be done right now or not. The newly rebranded FIA Formula 2 Championship is all set to burst into life this weekend, but, while it might well signal the start of a new dawn for the direct feeder series for Formula 1…there’s still plenty to prove.

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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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