WRC 2017 – France (Corsica) (Round 4)

OK, so it was a little while in coming, but when it did, well…they didn’t exactly make life easy for themselves, did they? I mean, when you think about it, there’s been numerous famous examples in motorsport over the years of strong connections between certain manufacturers and championships – some more iconic than others – and, while it’s not unusual for some teams to want to try their hand elsewhere every now and again, there’s almost an expectation that the more successful names would be able to pick up where they left off when it comes to bringing in the silverware, but, more often than not, it’s not as simple as that, and this is a classic case in point. Sure, they were never exactly likely to lose that winning habit overnight, but things have a habit of changing surprisingly quickly in this game, and, even with the dominant force of recent times now out of the picture, it was always going to take a little while for them to readjust, but, now that they’re off the mark, it’s hard not to think that this could lead to a major upturn in fortunes. Even at this early stage, the battle for the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship title is looking closer than it’s been for a very, VERY long time…and it’s going to be some time before it’s resolved.

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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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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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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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WRC 2017 – Sweden (Round 2)

Sweden (Round 2)
As the only truly winter rally on the current calendar, the snow-covered Swedish forests present perhaps the most unique challenge of any WRC event, so, with no clear championship favourite after the opening round of the season…who would be able to tame the white stuff this time around as the sport’s new era begins to take shape?

Now, I don’t know about you…but I think we’ve been here before, haven’t we? Of course, in motorsport, no two championship seasons are ever exactly the same – particularly after such a dramatic overhaul of the rules during the off-season – and so it’s inevitable things aren’t going to stay this way, but, with everyone starting from a clean sheet of paper, there was hope that the start of the sport’s new era would level the playing field and give a chance to some of the less familiar names to immediately make their mark…and yet, for one reason or another, we still ended up with near enough the same result.
In fact, if you were being really honest, you could say that this was the dominant force of recent times picking up virtually where they left off last year (and, if you’d only looked at the final result, that’s probably how it appeared), but it’s all too easy sometimes to take success for granted based on what’s gone before, and so, while it might not have looked like a contest on the surface, if you read between the lines…there was considerably more to it than that. The 2017 FIA World Rally Championship may have started as many had expected, but the field looks to be even more competitive than it has for a while…and so there’ll be plenty of twists and turns still to come.

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Supercars 2017 – Season Preview

v8-supercars-2016
With such a high-class field of drivers on show, it’s no surprise that the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship is one of the toughest touring car series in the world – this is the class of 2016 gathered ahead of the season-opening Clipsal 500 12 months ago – so who’s going to come out on top in 2017?

Right, so how’s this going to play out? I mean, clearly, national motorsport championships are unlikely to be able to establish the same broad appeal as one that travels around the world, but, every now and again, you do get certain exceptions that can develop a reputation outside of their home country, and, as far as I’m concerned…this is one of them. However, when you look at it on paper, it’s a bit of an odd combination – sure, they might be based on ordinary, road-going saloon cars (the backbone of any good touring car series), but the amount of power under the bonnet means they probably wouldn’t look out of place in GT or sports car racing either – and, despite numerous attempts to sort things out…well, the picture seems to get even more confusing, doesn’t it? As a result, the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship is still having to field some pretty stiff questions about its future direction, and, as the 2017 season prepares to burst into life this weekend, I think it’s about time we started to get some answers.

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WRC 2017 – Monte Carlo (Round 1)

Monte Carlo (Round 1)
You could call this ‘the calm before the storm’ – with 2017 signalling the dawn of a much-anticipated new era for the WRC, the new louder, angrier breed of cars gathered in Monte Carlo’s Casino Square ahead of the curtain-raiser…but who would be the one to strike first blood once they hit the stages?

Well, it’s certainly been a while in coming, but now (finally), it’s here…and it’s going to be something special. Of course, I realise that making statements like that at this stage means it could always come back and bite me in the weeks and months ahead, but, as far as I’m concerned, there’s no harm in being optimistic about something new, particularly when it has the potential to reshape the pecking order in such a big way. I mean, for all its plus points – and there’s plenty of those – certain championships in the world of motorsport can sometimes become a bit samey, and so, when the same driver keeps on winning time and time again, it’s not difficult to understand why things would need to change in order to shake things up, but, as shake-ups go…this is a pretty sizeable one, to say the least! The 2017 FIA World Rally Championship could well be the most open season for many years, and, given what we’ve seen in the recent past…I don’t think there’s many who’ll be complaining.

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WRC 2017 – Season Preview

WRC 2016
Compared to the machines of 2016 (seen here at the ceremonial start in Monte Carlo’s Casino Square 12 months ago), there’ll be a very different look to the WRC this time around, as well as a very different outcome…but who’s going to emerge on top?

Sitting comfortably, are we? All I’ll say is don’t get too used to it, because this is going to be one hell of a wild ride – sure, whichever way you look at it, motorsport as a whole is a pretty extreme discipline, but, while it’s all well and good watching it take place within the controlled environment of a purpose-built circuit, there’s something that bit more spectacular about taking the same concept out “into the wild”, so to speak…and this is, without doubt, the toughest test of them all. I mean, just think about it for a second – some of the world’s most talented drivers, behind the wheel of some incredible machinery, negotiating their way down essentially closed public roads at insane speeds, with hidden hazards just waiting to trip them up if they get it even slightly wrong and the added bonus of some stunning backdrops…sound good, does it? Well, in that case, strap yourselves in for a whirlwind worldwide adventure – the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship is about to burst into life, and, for once, it doesn’t seem to be anything like a foregone conclusion.

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