Weekend Highlights Weekend Highlights

Anyone fancy some LIVE Australian Supercars on to kick off the weekend? That’s right, the biggest names from Down Under’s premier motorsport category makes its eagerly-anticipated return, as the championship heads to the streets of Townsville in Queensland. The title battle is coming nicely to the boil, with four drivers from two of the sport’s most storied teams in the hunt at the halfway stage of the season. If either of DJR Team Penske’s Kiwi stars Fabian Coulthard or Scott McLaughlin were to come out on top, it would be the team’s first title since James Courtney in 2010, so where better to take charge of the championship battle than at legendary team boss Dick Johnson’s home race?

However, that will be easier said than done, with last year’s event winner and defending champion Shane van Gisbergen desperate for a repeat to get himself back in the title race after a costly DNF in the last round at Hidden Valley. Van Gisbergen’s misfortune was DJR Penske’s gain, as Coulthard and McLaughlin moved to the head of the standings with a victory apiece. However, the Ford camp cannot afford to relax just yet, with six-time champion Jamie Whincup still lurking in their midst. The Triple Eight racer is something of a Townsville specialist, with eight of his 104 career wins coming on the bumpy street circuit. Remarkably without a win so far this season, Whincup’s consistency means he is only 16 points adrift of Coulthard, but all that could change again if he adds a ninth win in Townsville… Make sure you don’t miss a beat on!

If you’re a fan of tin-tops then you’re in for a treat this weekend, with Delayed-as-Live TCR International Series coverage coming from Oschersleben. Highly-rated teenager Attila Tassi swept the board in his home round last time out at Hungary to collect a double win and with it the championship lead, but just as in Supercars, there are several drivers in the championship hunt. Despite a disastrous weekend for Jean-Karl Vernay (VW) in Austria and an off-colour run from two-time champion Stefano Comini (Audi) in Hungary, just 25 points separate the top four and both will be hoping that the tight and twisty layout allows them to hit back at Tassi and his M1RA Honda team-mate Roberto Colciago, himself twice a winner already this year. However, each will also have to look over their shoulder at Craft-Bamboo Racing’s Spanish sensation Pepe Oriola, now back on circuits that favour the SEAT after uncompetitive runs at Monza and Salzburgring. Having come close the last two years, Oriola will be eager to get himself into the title battle and become the first driver to de-throne Comini by season’s end. Could he land a key blow in Germany?

Make sure you don’t miss highlights of the FIA World Rallycross Championship from Holjes, as Johan Kristofferson sought to capitalise on the absence of reigning champion Mattias Ekstrom and extend his points lead on home turf. The Swede had never previously won at the popular 1.2 km Varmland venue before and to do so, would have to best defending winner Andreas Bakkerud, who pushed him all the way in the last round at Hell. And if the racing doesn’t provide enough intrigue, then make sure to catch Inside World RX with Neil Cole for an insight into what makes these 600 BHP beasts tick and an expert guide to arguably the greatest purpose-built rallycross venue in the world.

Next it’s highlights from an unforgettable round seven of the FIA World Rally Championship in Poland, which was only decided on the final day after a tooth and nail battle between Ford’s Ott Tanak and Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville. Championship leader Sebastien Ogier hoped that for once, running first would prove to be an advantage as the muddy conditions caused the roads to become rutted for the cars lower down the running order, while Citroen hoped their decision to bench Kris Meeke would be vindicated by a strong run for defending event winner Andreas Mikkelsen on only his second outing in the unwieldy C3 WRC.

While both Rally Poland and the Silk Way Rally are both off-road events, that’s pretty much where the similarity ends. The first stage of the seventh edition of this mammoth rally raid gets underway on Sunday, as the teams take on the tortuous trek from Moscow’s Red Square through Kazakhstan and onto Xi’an in China, the prestigious starting point of Silk Road. The event, which counts Carlos Sainz as a former winner, will last for two weeks, so make sure you’re clued up from the beginning with daily highlights right here on!

Meanwhile, the next generation of NASCAR stars were in action at the home of restrictor plate racing, Daytona, in round 15 of the Xfinity Series. 19-year-old William Byron was searching for a second win on the trot after his breakthrough triumph in Iowa, but could the Hendrick protégé keep his cool in a stacked field that included former Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano, defending champion Daniel Suarez and wily veteran Elliott Sadler, while also avoiding ‘The Big One’?

Friday 7th July

18:55 – The Flying Lap, Episode 15
20:30 – Inside World RX, Rd 7, Holjes
21:00 – FIA World Rally Championship, Round 8, Best-Of Rally Poland

Saturday 8th July

07:00 – LIVE Australian Supercars Championship, Rd 7, Townsville (Race 1)
10:40 – French Tractor Pulling, Bernay Part 1
13:15 – Red Bull Moto GP Rookies Cup, Rd 2, Sachsenring (Race 1)
13:55 – Red Bull Moto GP Rookies Cup, Rd 2, Sachsenring (Race 2)
14:45 – FIA World Rallycross Championship, Rd 7, Holjes
18:55 – European Drag Racing Championship, Rd 1, Santa Pod
20:00 – Australian Supercars Championship, Rd 7, Townsville (Race 1)
22:05 – Silk Way Rally, Day 1, Moscow-Tcheboksary

Sunday 9th July

07:00 – LIVE Australian Supercars Championship, Rd 7, Townsville (Race 2)
13:50 – FIA World Rally Championship, Round 8, Best-Of Rally Poland
14:50 – Delayed-as-Live TCR International Series, Round 7, Oschersleben
18:25 – NASCAR Xfinity Series, Round 15, Daytona International Speedway
20:00 – Australian Supercars Championship, Rd 7, Townsville (Race 2)
22:05 – Silk Way Rally, Day 2, Tcheboksary-UFA