If you’re beginning to suffer withdrawal symptoms from Formula 1 and wondering what other petrol-powered mayhem might be out there, then you’ve picked a very good weekend to start. With the 85th edition of the world’s oldest and most famous rally, a visit to the Mecca of Australian motorsport and the best motorcycle riders on the planet on a small dirt track in Barcelona, all vying for your attention, this week’s offing on the High Speed Television Channel is certainly not to be missed.
Handel’s Messiah opens with a chorus of cheery ‘Hallelujahs’ and you can expect a similar reception from fans of the World Rally Championship this weekend as the Monte Carlo Rally makes a triumphant return to our screens. There are no end of fascinating storylines to follow – a raft of new regulations designed to make the cars faster and more visually dramatic, not to mention the driver merry-go-round resulting from the withdrawal of VW – with a dramatic shake-up of the established pecking order appearing likely. Will Northern Irishman Kris Meeke be the man to profit, now established as Citroen’s undisputed number one? Can Tommi Mäkinen’s ambitious Toyota project get off to a flying start? Or will defending champion Sébastien Ogier take a fourth Monte win in a row following his high-profile switch to Ford?
The principality isn’t the only world-renowned destination on Motors TV’s global tour this weekend, as the awesome Mount Panorama Circuit plays host to the penultimate round of the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia. Rightly recognised as one of the seven wonders of the motorsport world, its 6.2 km of undulating tarmac is hallowed ground for all who race there and an ideal place for youngster Matt Campbell to stamp his authority on the championship. Campbell’s seventh and eighth victories of the season in Sandown gave him a handy 37.5 point lead in the standings, but he can’t afford to rest on his laurels even for a moment, with the walls ready to punish even the slightest mistake.
As the name suggests, the Superprestigioso Dirt Track is not just an end-of-season jolly for some of the top riders in the world to let off steam, but a coveted title contested with all the zeal that you would expect of these ferociously competitive athletes. In the fourth year of the event, could Marc Márquez cap his hugely successful 2016 season with a popular victory in front of his home fans in Barcelona’s Palau Sant Jordi?
We end on a Kiwi double-header, from total opposite ends of the motorsport spectrum. The Toyota NZ 86 Championship isn’t the best-known tin-top series in the region, but it might be the most hard-fought, with four different winners from the first six races of the year at Pukekohe and Taupo. Round 3 at the undulating Ruapuna Park promised more of the same…
From four wheels to none at all, there’s nothing quite like NZ Jet Sprints for adrenaline-pumping action as these lightweight powerboats thunder around the purpose-built course at a staggering rate of knots. Take our advice and don’t get too close!
Friday 20th January
22:05 – Canadian Winter Rally Championship, Rd 7, Big White Winter Rally22:35 – FIA WRC, Rd 1, Monte Carlo Rally, Day 1 Highlights
Saturday 21st January
11:05 – Porsche Carrera Cup Australia, Rd 7, Bathurst12:40 – Canadian Winter Rally Championship, Rd 7, Big White Winter Rally13:40 – FIA World Endurance Championship, Best Of18:25 – Toyota NZ 86 Championship, Rd 3, Ruapuna Park20:30 – Lucas Oils Off-Road Racing Series, Rd 3, Lake Elsinore (Pro Lite & Pro 2)21:35 – Lucas Oils Off-Road Racing Series, Rd 3, Lake Elsinore (Pro Buggy & Pro 4)22:35 – FIA WRC, Rd 1, Monte Carlo Rally, Day 2 Highlights
Sunday 22nd January
13:10 – Lucas Oils Off-Road Racing Series, Rd 3, Lake Elsinore (Pro Lite & Pro 2)14:10 – Lucas Oils Off-Road Racing Series, Rd 3, Lake Elsinore (Pro Buggy & Pro 4)14:45 – Porsche Carrera Cup Australia, Rd 7, Bathurst15:50 – Toyota NZ 86 Championship, Rd 3, Ruapuna Park17:50 – NZ Jet Sprints, Rd 4, Hastings Group A18:20 – NZ Jet Sprints, Rd 4, Hastings Superboats20:30 – Superprestigioso Dirt Track Replay, Barcelona22:35 – FIA WRC, Rd 1, Monte Carlo Rally, Day 3 Highlights