We’re all excited for the new season of F1 to get underway in 2017, but there are so many other good championships out there that are worth giving your attention to as well.
So, if you fancy trying something new in 2017, you could do worse than giving these eight series a go!
WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
The top-flight of American endurance racing has always been a little bit different, and it’s all the better for it. For 2017 the divisive Daytona Prototypes are out and the new Daytona Prototype Internationals (DPi) are in, and they look awesome.
But awesome looking cars aren’t the only reason to watch it, because the calendar is filled with some of the worlds great race tracks: Daytona, Road America, Virginia International Raceway, Long Beach, Mosport, Laguna Seca and many others.
With four different classes and race lengths varying from 1 hour 40 minutes right up to 24 hours, there really is something for everyone.
First round: 28th of January, Daytona
GP2 is the meant to be the main feeder series for Formula 1, though in recent years that’s been up for debate. It (along with GP3) supports F1 most weekends and many recent great drivers have had championship success there, such as Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and of course, Pastor Maldonado.
As well as being a good place to watch drivers hoping to make it to F1, it’s worth watching simply because the racing is, more often than not, absolutely amazing. Never mind being a feeder series, it stands up as a championship in its own right.
If you like lots of overtaking, lots of incidents and lots of strategy with a sprinkling of ‘what the hell was that driver thinking doing that’, then GP2 is the championship for you.
First round: 13th of May, Barcelona (TBC)
The biggest championship in Japan, Super GT, is split into two categories: GT500 and GT300.
The GT500 cars are absolute monsters. Nissan, Lexus and Honda all field highly developed cars which are driven by proper works drivers and, unlike many championships nowadays, there’s even a tyre war. The combination of all of these things mean that although the cars resemble those in the DTM, they’re actually are almost as quick as LMP1s!
The GT300 class is made up of the GT3 cars which populate so many series around the world, and the championships own GT300 cars, which are kinda like slower versions of the GT500 cars. They’re almost as bonkers, too, and include the only Toyota Prius that you’d actually want to drive.
First round: 9th of April, Okayama
World Endurance Championship
The WEC has surged in popularity in recent years but even with the withdrawal of Audi and Mark Webber’s retirement, that doesn’t mean it’s suddenly not worth watching.
There have been huge driver shake-ups in LMP1, and there will be an all-new LMP2 category with faster, more powerful cars. Then there are the GTE classes, which feature factory teams from Ford, Porsche, Ferrari and Aston Martin (BMW join them in 2018) and always has close racing.
And of course, the whole season is centred around Le Mans, the biggest and most spectacular race of the year, which never fails to be exciting.
First round: 16th of April, Silverstone
Although IndyCar has never quite got back to the popularity it enjoyed in the 1990s that doesn’t mean it isn’t still good. If you can get past the slightly unusual looking cars you’ll be treated to unpredictable racing around a good mixture of road courses, street tracks and ovals. And where else can you see top-level single seaters racing around the likes of Barber, Road America and Watkins Glen?
There’s a definite feeling of a changing of the guard going on as well as a whole new breed of young drivers are finally getting the chance to take it to some of the more established names and teams.
Although Simon Pagenaud walked the championship in 2016, with Josef Newgarden as a team mate at Penske and a whole raft of driver and team changes it unlikely that he (or anyone else) will have such an easy time of it in 2017.
First round: 12th of March, St. Petersburg
World Rally Championship
For many rallying is still the ultimate display of driver skill, but in recent years the WRC seems to have become a bit, well, stale.
That will almost certainly not be the case in 2017 as, like in F1, the regulations have changed to allow for faster cars with more downforce and more power, which should make for some spectacular viewing. Although Volkswagen have left Toyota have come back in, and with Sebastian Ogier driving for the privateer M-Sport team the championship battle is the most open it’s been for years.
First round: 20th of January, Monte Carlo
After a crazy 2016 season which saw eight different winners in eight races and four completely new winners, MotoGP has a lot to live up to in 2017. With Jorge Lorenzo off to Ducati, Maverick Vinales (who has the coolest name in motorsport) off to Yamaha and Andrea Iannone heading to Suzuki it has every chance of doing just that.
For seasoned fans of car racing it can be a bit difficult to get used to bike racing, because the style is a little bit different. Once you’re over that though you’ll be treated to great racing – which is refreshingly simple and gimmick-free – and riders that not only have personalities, but are actually allowed to show them!
First round: 26th of March, Qatar
World Rallycross Championship
Although rallycross has been around forever, it didn’t become a world championship until 2014 and since then, WorldRX has gone from strength to strength.
Each event is jam-packed with short, action-filled races and there’s hardly ever a lull in the racing so excitement is virtually guaranteed. It’s also the place to see some of the most jaw-droppingly badass driving in motorsport.
First round: 1st of April, Barcelona