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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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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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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TCR International Series 2017 – Season Preview

Despite being a relatively recent addition to the world motorsport scene, the TCR International Series has rapidly grown to become one of the most popular and prestigious touring car series around – this is the 2016 field at the Imola circuit in Italy – so what does the new season have in store?

The novelty factor might be wearing off a little bit now…but it still doesn’t look an inch out of place, does it? I mean, in the cut-and-thrust world of motorsport, whenever a new championship arrives on the scene – particularly one that seems to have come completely out of left-field – it’s natural that expectations are going to remain pretty low for a while as it tries to find its feet, yet nobody seems to have got the memo here. Sure, it might not have been around all that long, but it delivers everything you’d expect of the more established touring car series around the world, and, at the minute, it just seems to be going from strength to strength. The TCR International Series has created more than its fair share of stories in its short history so far, and so, with the 2017 season preparing to fire up this weekend…it’s time to start writing the next chapter.

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BTCC 2017 – Season Preview

With packed grids, a huge variety of cars and some of the best racing anywhere on the planet, the British Touring Car Championship continues to set incredibly high standards – this is the field of 2016 in the first race of the penultimate meeting at Silverstone – but can the new campaign stand up to expectations?

Now, I know this gets said every single year, but let’s be honest here…this has all the makings of something special, doesn’t it? I mean, one of the many great things about motorsport as a whole is that there’s so much variety in terms of the various different styles of racing, meaning that – regardless of which one you prefer – there’s a championship out there to suit virtually anybody, and, as far as I’m concerned…this is the best of the bunch. Sure, on the surface, it can’t really compete with the engineering masterpieces that you get in Formula One, nor does it produce the same brutal, rugged spectacle of the World Rally Championship, but these things are almost a price worth paying when the quality of the racing itself remains so consistently high year after year, and so it’s really no surprise why many people regard it as the best saloon car series anywhere in the world. That’s right, the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship is back, and, as the 2017 season prepares to kick off at Brands Hatch this weekend…it’s virtually impossible to predict who’s going to come out on top.

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