Weekend Highlights July 28,29,30 Weekend Highlights July 28,29,30

This week we have a real treat in store for you, with in-depth coverage of two top-drawer events from the world of endurance and rallying, the Spa 24 Hours and Rally Finland. With LIVE coverage of the 24 Hours, the pinnacle of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup and Daily Highlights from the World Rally Championship’s ‘Gravel Grand Prix’, plus plenty more besides, you won’t want to miss a beat on!

Run since 1924, the Spa 24 Hours is the longest-running around-the-clock endurance race in existence, pre-dating even Le Mans. Formerly a round of the European Touring Car Championship, World Sportscar Championship and FIA GT Championship, today the Spa 24 is the highlight of the Blancpain GT Series for GT3 cars and with points awarded at the six, 12 and 24 hour marks, could have a pivotal role to play in deciding the outcome of the title. Just five points separate the top three teams heading into the weekend, with M-Sport’s Bentley, Grasser Lamborghini and the SMP Racing Ferrari all in the hunt. But so the saying goes, anything can happen over 24 hours and a good finish at the Belgian circuit could lift myriad other teams into championship contention, including defending overall champions HTP Motorsport, set back by a DNF at Paul Ricard. With Andre Lotterer making his return to Audi, ex-F1 star Kamui Kobayashi joining the all-Japanese Good Smile Racing Mercedes and a full works entry from Porsche for home hero Laurens Vanthoor, Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen, there are stars everywhere you look, but would any of them still be going by 4:30pm on Sunday?

Still known in some quarters as the Rally of 1000 Lakes, the pilgrimage to rallying’s spiritual home of Finland is the highlight of the FIA WRC season and the most prized event for a driver to have on their CV. Its fast gravel stretches and massive jumps require unparalleled commitment and favour drivers with local knowledge. Just four non-Scandinavians have won an event typically dominated by Finns in the last 20 years, with Markko Martin (2003), Sebastien Loeb (2008, 2011-2012), Sebastien Ogier (2013) and Kris Meeke (2016) only briefly managing to break the stranglehold of famous names like Makinen, Kankkunen, Gronholm, Hirvonen and Latvala. With Ogier forced to end his pre-event test early after a crash, his rivals will be hoping the championship leader adopts a measured approach, but only 11 points separates him and Thierry Neuville after the Belgian’s victory in Poland, so expect Ogier to unleash his inner sisu!

Over in the USA, the NASCAR Xfinity Series headed to the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the title battle finely poised between JR Motorsports team-mates Elliott Sadler and William Byron. Veteran Sadler is enjoying a new lease of life in NASCAR’s second string, while rookie Byron has taken the championship by storm with two wins in his first year. But with Cup interloper Kyle Busch on red-hot form after wins at Kentucky and New Hampshire, plus Indianapolis track specialist Paul Menard back in the Richard Childress #2 Chevrolet, would the championship protagonists be upstaged?

Back in sunny England, there’s nothing quite like the Goodwood Festival of Speed, a unique gathering of cars and bikes from all disciplines and all eras in the picturesque setting of Lord March's Sussex manor house. World Champion Nico Rosberg, Robert Kubica and more top names were on hand to demonstrate F1 machinery, while the ever-popular top 10 shootout saw Jaguar Group C machinery pitched against modern day Porsche Carrera Cup and Subaru's Isle of Man lap record holder to see which could get the closest to the famous flint wall…

There was more competitive action from the FIA European Truck Racing Championship as the big rigs headed to the 5.9km Slovakiaring for the first time. Championship leader Adam Lacko from the Czech Republic and 2015 champion Norbert Kiss of Hungary could expect plenty of local support, but could Slovakia provide reigning champion Jochen Hahn with an opportunity to mount his comeback after a tough start to the season in the new Iveco?

And if all that’s not enough, with thrills and spills aplenty in the annual Brands Hatch Mini Festival, plus action from the Ferrari Challenge Europe at Le Castellet, the latest tech insights from The Flying Lap and more FIM World Sidecarcross mayhem from Latvia and France, your weekend should be in very good hands – albeit, slightly oily ones!

Friday 28th July

18:55 – The Flying Lap, Episode 18
20:30 – FIA European Truck Racing Championship, Rd 4, Slovakiaring
21:30 – Goodwood Festival of Speed
22:35 – FIA World Rally Championship, Rd 9, Finland (Day 1)

Saturday 29th July

08:20 – NASCAR Xfinity Series, Rd 18, Indianapolis
11:20 – Brands Hatch Mini Festival
11:50– Mini Challenge, Rd 5, Brands Hatch Indy
12:50 – LIVE Italian Motorcycle Road Racing Championship, Rd 5, Misano
15:00 – LIVE Blancpain GT Series, Rd 4, Spa-Francorchamps
21:30 – FIA World Rally Championship, Rd 9, Finland (Day 2)
22:00 – LIVE Blancpain GT Series, Rd 4, Spa-Francorchamps

Sunday 30th July

07:00 – LIVE Blancpain GT Series, Rd 4, Spa-Francorchamps
09:30 – LIVE Blancpain GT Series, Rd 4, Spa-Francorchamps
19:25 – FIM World Sidecarcross Championship, Rd 5, Latvia
20:15 – FIM World Sidecarcross Championship, Rd 6, France
21:30 – Ferrari Challenge Europe, Rd 4, Paul Ricard
22:35 – FIA World Rally Championship, Rd 9, Finland (Day 3)