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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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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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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