IMSA Sportscar Championship
The Sebring 12 Hours may only be half the length of Daytona, but its esteemed history makes it an equally desirable race for competitors to have on their CV. First run in 1950, Sebring was traditionally a warm-up race for Le Mans and attracted the likes of Porsche (18 wins), Ferrari (12 wins), Audi (11), Peugeot and the rest. Now firmly embedded as part of the burgeoning IMSA Sportscar Championship, Sebring is a fan’s favourite, as sportscar fans travel from far and wide to watch Prototypes, Prototype Challenge, GTLM and GTD all vying for class honours. With any teething problems sure to be ironed out by the gruelling 24 Hours, expect a flat-out battle to the final few laps.• LIVE Rd 2, Sebring 12 Hours – Saturday 18 March at 14:30
FIA World Rally Championship
After a chilly start to the year in Monte Carlo and Sweden, the stars and cars of the WRC will need to adapt quickly to the stifling heat of the Mexican desert in the first gravel rally of 2017. First held in 2004, Rally Mexico weaves its way through the historic region of Guanajuato, but there will be no time to stop and admire the UNESCO-approved scenery. The record-breaking 80km Guanajuato stage – the WRC’s longest since Corsica in 1986 – may be no more, but there will be no shortage of obstacles for the crews to overcome, not least the effects of altitude. At 2,700 metres above sea-level, Rally Mexico features the highest point on the WRC calendar, making it not only tough on the engines, but on the crews trying to negotiate some of the rockiest terrain of the season…
• Daily Highlights Rd 3, Rally Mexico – Saturday 11 March at 09:30, Sunday 12 March at 09:30 and Monday 13 March at 09:30
After several years of threatening the championship’s big guns in smaller teams, Shane Van Gisbergen secured the title in his first season at Triple Eight, simply brushing the likes of Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes aside. Now the Holden factory team, there will be even more expectation on Triple Eight to run at the front again in 2017 as the new season gets underway on the streets of Adelaide, a circuit where 2010 champion James Courtney has won in each of the last three seasons. However, Courtney’s Walkinshaw Racing team will have to cope with the loss of Holden as the team’s main backer, and long-time team-mate Garth Tander, who moves across to Garry Rogers Motorsport. That’s only scratching at the surface of the driver merry-go-round, with jandal-loving Kiwi Scott McLaughlin moving from the GRM stable to DJR Team Penske in place of Scott Pye, who takes Tander’s spot at Walkinshaw. Meanwhile Jason Bright has switched back to Ford after seven years with Brad Jones Racing, with his ride going to Nick Percat, while Simona de Silvestro will become the first female to race in the series full time since 1998 upon joining Nissan. With everything to play for in the first race of the New Year, fireworks can be guaranteed…
• LIVE Rd 1, Adelaide – Saturday 4 March at 04:50 and Sunday 5 March at 04:50
After the new season kicks off in Qatar, it’s a quick turnaround before the motocross travelling circus hits the road in March for rounds two and three in Indonesia – returning to the calendar in place of Thailand for the first time since 1997 – and Argentina. Not much is known about Pangkal Pinang, located on the small island of Bangka Belitung, the Indonesian GP having previously been held in Bandung on Jawa, but it presents an ideal opportunity for somebody to upset the established pecking order. The form books are a little easier to read for Neuquén in Argentina, where honours were split in 2016 between Max Nagl and rookie Tim Gajser, the third win of what would become a title-winning season. Dutchman Jeffrey Herlings monopolised MX2 in Argentina last year, so can he ‘do a Gajser’ and make the seamless jump to the top class on the factory KTM?
• Delayed Rd 2, Indonesia – Sunday 5 March at 16:50• LIVE Rd 3, Argentina – Sunday 19 March at 15:00 (Race 1) and 18:00 (Race 2)
British Rally Championship
After a year away, the British Rally Championship is back to its best and returns in 2017 with a hungry pack of talents hoping to emulate Elfyn Evans, who won five rounds last year to relaunch his WRC career. The series kicks off on Scottish gravel with the Border Counties Rally, a newcomer to the BRC, but will be familiar to the regulars from the Scottish championship including four-time winner David Bogie, the BRC champion in 2011. Even with night stages added into the mix, local man Bogie will be cautiously optimistic of hitting the ground running, but will have to be wary of fellow Skoda Fabia R5 runners Marty McCormack and Desi Henry.
• Rd 1, Border Counties Rally – Sunday March 26th at 14:45
For the past 10 years, the indoor trials world championships have been dominated by one man and one man alone. With 20 world championships to his name, Spain’s Toni Bou has at only 30 years of age already surpassed Dougie Lampkin as the most successful trials rider of all time, but after finishing second in each of the last two campaigns, will this be the year that compatriot Adam Raga – the last man to beat Bou over a season in 2006 – finally returns to the top?
• Round 2, Austria – Sunday 19 March at 17:00
Lucas Oils Off-Road Racing Series
If excitement could be bottled, then it would probably resemble the LOORRS, the first name in short course off-road racing in the US. Headlined by the monstrous Pro 4 class, for four-wheel-drive racing trucks producing upwards of 700 horsepower, the 2016 season was among the closest yet, as Kyle LeDuc took his third title over Carl Renezeder by virtue of winning three times to Renezeder’s two.
• Round 10, San Bernardino – Tuesday 7 March at 21:00• Round 11, Sparks – Tuesday 14 March at 21:00• Round 12, Sparks – Tuesday 21 March at 21:00• Round 13, Lake Elsinore – Tuesday 28 March at 21:00