What To Look Forward To In 2017

There is a lot to look for in the 2017 motorsport season.

I felt something was missing in 2016. I don’t know what it was. Some sort of spark. Maybe it was me, maybe it was other events away from racing, or maybe motorsport just didn’t grab me as much as before – with the exception of IndyCar and MotoGP which were excellent. I didn’t invest as much time in keeping up with WEC and IMSA, something I’m doing over the winter break.

I think that should change this year.

Formula 1

New cars! Better looking cars. No more silly rear wings. Faster over a lap, faster through the corners. Hopefully they’ll look as fast and dramatic as the last time we had high downforce F1 cars, about a decade ago. The drivers are going to have to work hard.

With luck this will shake up the order. Some teams will get it wrong and will spend the year catching up. We’ll see them do it, much like we’ve seen McLaren-Honda get faster through the year over the last two years.

The downside? More downforce usually reduces overtaking opportunities. I wonder whether the larger rear wing will increase the effectiveness of the DRS. I would rather have no DRS – or have it and allow a driver to use it wherever he likes, no zones, no limits.

There should be good news with the tyres. Pirelli are charged with making tyres that allow a driver to push and not conserve so we might see some flat out racing again. Let’s hope they get it right.

How will Valterri Bottas fare at Mercedes alongside Lewis Hamilton? I’m excited to find out. I don’t think he’ll be a pushover. And Hamilton will want to fight after being defeated last year – I think he’ll win another title, but may again trip over himself in doing so.

How will Max Verstappen get on at his second season at the big Red Bull team and how will Dan Ricciardo react? Will Ferrari sink or swim, will Seb Vettel get fed up and move on? Will McLaren be back?

MotoGP

MotoGP is always fun at the front of the field. Even a dominant lead can be lost with a momentary lapse of concentration sending a rider to the floor.

Jorge Lorenzo moves to that hard-to-tame Ducati. Maverick Vinales replaces him at Yamaha alongside Valentino Rossi. Iannone across to Suzuki. I reckon the title fight will be between Marquez and Vinales. I’d love to see Pedrosa up front more often.

How will KTM get on in their first season? Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro, Tech3 teammates last year, both move there.

Formula E

I’m excited to see the races at New York and Montreal. I hope to see Jaguar improving through the year. Adam Carroll is vastly underrated and ought to have had a top works drive years ago.

I would like to see a greater energy allocation, more harvesting, as the cars are too energy-restricted. They did grant more allocation this season but they also lengthened the races which offset the benefit. If they’d given more energy for the same distance, everyone could’ve pushed harder in the race. It feels like the series is wasting the opportunity for good races while everyone is cruising around saving energy.

Sebastien Buemi leads after the two rounds held so far, but my tip is to keep watching Felix Rosenqvist.

IndyCar

Some of the best racing in the world will continue to be found in IndyCar. I fully expect the Indy 500 to be a highlight again.

Aero Kit competition is now frozen. In theory this means Honda are at a disadvantage, at least on road and street courses. A spec kit will appear in 2018.

Chip Ganassi Racing are moving back to Honda. With the might of CGR’s resources, joining Andretti’s, I suspect the Honda vs Chevy competition may become more equal.

AJ Foyt’s team go the other way to Chevy. Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly join. I’m starting to think Foyt will have a very good season! Takuma Sato goes the other way, to Andretti.

Josef Newgarden will have the most attention. His was the biggest move in the driver market, joining Team Penske to replace Juan Montoya. (JPM will still contest Indy). It took someone with the talent of Simon Pagenaud a full season to ‘bed in’ at Penske so I think we should go easy on Joe-New, at least this year.

As in 2016 I expect Pagenaud versus Power over the season, too close to call, but you must watch all of the races because really anything can happen from race to race!

World Endurance Championship

It’ll be very strange without Audi competing. Only five LMP1 cars:  2 x Porsche, 2 x Toyota, 1 x ByKolles CLM. We may see another Toyota at Le Mans and surely this is their year for the 24 Hours?

We saw great battles between two manufacturers in the past, Audi vs Peugeot, then Audi vs Toyota, so there’s every reason to think Toyota vs Porsche will be just as good.

All-new cars in LMP2. Which will be quickest? I’m sad they felt the need to restrict it to four chassis makers but I understand the budgetary reasons for it. Hopefully the cost savings will attract more entrants. Rebellion Racing step down from LMP1 with a hell of a driver line-up.

GTE Pro is a balance of performance (BoP) nightmare. Ford and Ferrari ahead last year but Porsche have a new car – and it is a mid-engined 911. Heresy! This could be the best fight in the field. And in 2018 we’ll see the brand new BMW.

GTE Am. Early yet but I’m not seeing a lot of takers. Perhaps it is time to replace it with GT3?

IMSA Sportscars

The story in the US is very different, IMSA is having a resurgence. The Prototype class will use the same brand new LMP2 cars as the WEC. In addition are the new Daytona Prototype international “DPi” cars, which take those LMP2 cars and add manufacturer engines and bespoke bodywork. It is a cost-effective way to bring in manufacturers and it has attracted Cadillac, Mazda and Nissan. It should be a fantastic year in the top class and it stars next week with the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.

The GTLM class in IMSA, just like the ALMS before it, is top drawer. Often it is the best race among the 4 classes and it is usually better than the WEC equivalent (which runs to the same rules).

GTD will be numerically dominant with a lot of GT3 cars, no slouches themselves, including the new Acura (Honda) and Lexus. Worth checking out the entry list.

And the much-maligned PC class will finally be put out of its misery at the end of the year! It worked well when it started, but really ought to have been killed off a couple of years ago.

European Le Mans Series

The top class will have those new LMP2 cars which seem to be attracting a lot of attention in this series. LMP3 is also proving popular so there should be a lot of Prototypes in the ELMS again this year. I’d like to see a bigger GT field.

The supporting Michelin Le Mans Cup, featuring LMP3 and GT3 cars in a series of 2-hour races (1 hour at Le Mans before the big race), is also booming. This should be one of the hidden gems of 2017 so do look out for it, especially the LM24 support race.

World Rally Championship

New cars. Faster cars. Okay, some people are heralding them as the second coming of Group B – they are decidedly not that. They aren’t that extreme, with much less power than Gp.B, but with modern suspension, tyres, electronics and all the rest they will be very fast. It is good to see the WRC return to more advanced tech.

Citroen are back, Toyota are back, Hyundai continue and the M-Sport Fords look competitive.

My TV

One more reason this year will be good? I’ve upgraded from a 30″ standard definition TV to a 50″ Ultra HD TV. Wow what an upgrade! Even the size difference is remarkable, let alone the quality.

Okay there’s not much content in UHD, for motorsport basically it is only MotoGP, but I bet it’ll look damn good! (I think F1 is in UHD this year – but I don’t have Sky Sports). Certainly I will be enjoying a lot of stuff in ‘normal’ 1080 HD – and I can’t wait!

 

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2016 Motorsport Calendars

2016’s calendars are now available!

Each year I produce motorsport calendars for use within Google Calendar, iCal, Outlook and many other apps.

I have now added as many 2016 motorsport dates as I can find and they are available to use!

Just go to:   www.toomuchracing.com/calendar

There are a few notes on my methodology followed by a table showing each racing series:  F1, MotoGP, IndyCar, WEC, IMSA, NASCAR, WTCC, BTCC, DTM and many more. Just click the links on the right hand side of the table.

There are a couple of options, try each to find the one that works the way you want it.

If you subscribed to these feeds in 2015, or before, and have not removed them, you do not need to add them again. Just scroll forwards and the dates will be there. This obviously doesn’t apply if you took it as a download!

Thanks everybody for your continued support of this project. Do keep pointing out errors and omissions. And share with anybody who may be interested!

This Blog

A quick note on the blog:  I apologise for not posting more frequently. The last couple of years have been quite tiring. I keep meaning to return with lots of small posts and observations rather than the occasional long-read. I do miss the long posts as well.

I’m also considering a Facebook page. On Twitter I share or retweet lots of stories I think are interesting or funny and it might be useful to have a place on FB to do the same. Let me know your thoughts.

2012 Race Schedules

For the last two seasons I’ve created race schedules for use in Google Calendar, iCal, Outlook and any other compatible diary system. 2012 is no exception and I can now announce the calendars for the year ahead are now, mostly, complete!

IWTMR Motorsport Calendar for May 2012 (click for Large)

If you want to track some of your favourite series and events, just load your selection of racing categories into your calendar so that you can make plans to watch live or set the DVR – and hopefully never miss another race!

Please go to the Calendar page for futher details and updates.

Marco Simoncelli 1987-2011

Marco Simoncelli has passed away today as a result of injuries sustained in a crash on lap 2 of the Malaysian MotoGP at Sepang.

Marco was a champion at 250cc level and a podium finisher this season in MotoGP. He was making a name for himself as a star not just of the future but of today. Sure he had some run-ins and disagreements with some of the others but that was fine, part of the appeal of MotoGP is that it has big characters willing to say and do what they think. There weren’t many with a bigger character than Marco Simoncelli.

You always knew when you were watching Simoncelli, he had a way of riding which was different to everyone else on the grid. Trying different lines through corners, inside the guy in front, outside, this way and that. Sometimes it went too far and he went off. He’d gained a reputation as a bit of a crasher, until recently that is.

After a trying early part of the year with just a few too many fairly minor crashes, he had recovered his form posting a string of 4th-places, and just one week ago he’d recorded his best ever MotoGP finish, 2nd place at Phillip Island in Australia. Everyone thought he’d ironed out the crashing, and perhaps he had. Some tipped him as a World Champion of the future, perhaps even as soon as 2012.

It wasn’t the fall from the bike which cost him his life today, it was the following racers being unable to avoid him. Something will need to be done to prevent accidents such as this and the similar Moto2 accident last year which claimed Shoya Tomizawa.

But that is not how we want to remember either rider. We want to remember how they raced, and their personalities, and their positive effect on the paddock and on MotoGP and racing as a whole.

Here’s Simoncelli’s press conference interview from last week in which he was his normal smiling, bubbly effusive self. Much like Dan Wheldon, you rarely saw Marco Simoncelli without a smile.

Two big losses in the space of a week, the motorsport world is in shock. This off-season cannot come soon enough.

A Promising Season of MotoGP

Today’s MotoGP race at Jerez was the best I’d seen ages. After a year of so-so races which promised much but often failed to deliver, including the wet ones, this race was a return to old form – and dare I say even more dramatic than some Rossi-inspired classics we’ve seen in the past.

The race had everything. A damp slippery track; a legend starting in the middle of the field who immediately set about picking off 3 or 4 rivals per lap; a pair of World Champions riding off into the sunset in the early running, before being pulled in by the rookie on the privateer bike.. who subsequently fell off; the legend coming together with one of the past champs and only one surviving to continue, seemingly at the whim of the local marshals; nobody being able to hold on to 2nd or 3rd without finding some form of drama.

Amazing. You should watch this race. Make it a priority. Even if you aren’t usually a MotoGP fan: Watch This Race.

It is easy to claim the season will be a great one after a race like this when in fact it is an oddity, a one-off, but this time I think it is true. Obviously they won’t all be as dramatic as this one. They won’t be as boring as the races last year, either. We saw the potential in Qatar. Honda are the team to beat but they are beatable, Rossi and Ducati are coming together nicely, the Yamahas have a decent enough pace, and Simoncelli looks likely to mix it with the factory boys often.

We could see plenty of really good battles this season. Could MotoGP regain a lost crown and once more claim to have the best wheel-to-wheel action in the world? I think it can and will.

MotoGP: 2010 Valencia

GP Generali de la Communitat Valenciana

Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Valencia, Spain

Date: Watched live on 7 Nov 2010 taking notes during the race which were then forgotten about until I found them earlier. Oops.

This is the final race of the year. Jorge Lorenzo has the title wrapped up, and in 2nd Dani Pedrosa is 19 points ahead of Valentino Rossi, will the positions be reversed after this race? As this is Rossi’s final race for Yamaha, the BBC’s Jennie How has a good interview with him in the pre-race, he says he’s had many special moments not least of which was the first win in his first race with them after switching from Honda. When asked if Lorenzo has pushed him harder than any other teammate he says that’s true.

Then there’s a bit of an introduction to Cal Crutchlow, the new Brit taking Ben Spies’ seat, seems a really straight-talking guy and I hope he sticks around longer than Toseland did. Nice to get a few words from a few 125 and Moto2 riders as well, perhaps in future this could be extended to show all frontrunners not just the Brits.

Not many good races are held at this circuit in any category and I hope this one bucks the trend.

Front row: Casey Stoner is on pole, Lorenzo and Simoncelli alongside. Marco’s first front row start.

Stoner assumes the lead through turn one but it’s Pedrosa who impresses, from 7th he’s up to 2nd quickly – until Hayden gets past him to make it a Ducati 1-2. Simoncelli is 4th, Lorenzo down to 5th and then there’s Rossi. And that’s just lap one.

We know Simoncelli isn’t scared of anyone and he proves it again on lap two, Lorenzo dives inside him but is fended off by Marco on the switchback. Jorge tries again and touches Simoncelli’s bike, he’s nearly thrown off! He saves it but falls down the order. Meanwhile there’s a cloud of dust… it’s Hayden in the gravel, he’s out of the race, such a shame as he was was having a much-needed good run. Replay: Hayden went off by himself, lost the front end and no-one else to blame.

Rossi passes Simoncelli into turn one with 25 laps to go (lap 5 or 6), Marco tries to push back but has a bit of respect and backs off rather than taking out Vale or himself. This puts a recovering Lorenzo on Simoncelli’s tail as Rossi opens a gap. One lap later Lorenzo makes the same move to claim 4th.

22 to go and Pedrosa had been putting in fastest laps but no more. He’s on Stoner’s tail and now I’m sure Rossi is closing on the pair of them, and just like that he’s passed Pedrosa – and Lorenzo follows him through!

16 to go, the group has started to compress, Lorenzo is catching Stoner while Rossi is faster than both – this time. It seems to be changing with every lap.

14 to go, Stoner’s tyres are starting to go off and it is showing. He’s running wide here and there, only slightly but just enough because these bikes aren’t very wide – a few more laps and he’s a sitting target, unless Lorenzo has used his too in his charge?

Replay as Lorenzo had bit of a bump and wobble in his seat, allowing Stoner some breathing space. Dovizioso passes Simoncelli and then Pedrosa, yet after spending half a lap looking at replays of this we cut live to the group and the order is once again Pedrosa, Simoncelli and Dovizioso! Dani then runs wide and is passed once more.

10 to go. Lorenzo is still harrying Stoner but Rossi has been dropped. Pedrosa has now fallen to the back of his group of four riders.

8 to go and Lorenzo is through! He takes the lead! The crowd goes crazy with their #99 flags. A lap later Dovizioso sends one up the inside of Simoncelli who tries to fight back, nothing doing. Now Spies is on Simoncelli’s tail. There’s a lot of daylight between this scrap and Pedrosa now.

With just 3 laps to go Spies passes both Simoncelli and Dovizioso with some great passing on a single lap! Dovi retakes him into turn one but Spies has the line for turn two and he’s in front once more. Epic.

Lorenzo wins! Stoner 2nd, Rossi 3rd, Spies 4th, Dovizioso, Simoncelli, Pedrosa, etc.

Final points: Lorenzo 383, Pedrosa 245, Rossi 233, Stoner 225, Dovizioso 206, Spies 163, Simoncelli 125

What a superb race. At the Ricardo Tormo circuit too. That almost never happens.

With some huge line-up changes for 2011 I’m really looking forward to picking up the series again in Qatar.

Book Review at VivaF1

I’ve been reading a book this week for a review for VivaF1.com, as part of their week of book reviews.

You’ll find the review here:  MotoGP: An Illustrated History

I hope you check it out because it is a really interesting book even if you are only casually interested in two-wheeled racing, and please do also look at the other reviews posted since Monday.