With the World Rally Championship heading into the hills around Monte Carlo in just over a week and the Dakar Rally currently underway, it seems like the right time to take a quick look ahead at the action that awaits us in 2016 and how series and participants are shaping up for the season ahead.
World Rally Championship (WRC)
Whilst it’s too early for anything more than talk and testing for most, the WRC rolls into Monaco on Thursday, 21st January with shots and clips of the cars testing around the hills being posted regularly on their Facebook page. If that doesn’t quite do it for you, click here for an article about what makes the Monte Carlo Rally so special from no other than 9-times champion, Sebastien Loeb.
With no major news on the driver front, the most exciting story is that Rally Mexico will host an 80km long stage, the longest in the WRC for over 30 years. We don’t even have to wait that long, with it being the third event of the season, starting on the 3rd March.
WRC news, the full calendar and their subscription service which includes live action and access to their archive of previous year’s rally footage, special shows and driver tributes is available for a modest £3.50(ish) a month, and can be found at WRC.com.
British Touring Car Championship (BTCC)
Closer to home, the British Touring Car Championship has been posting pictures of its launch event this week on its own Facebook page, with the major news being that Subaru are to be providing the Team BMR car for the 2016 season.
ITV4 have announced a deal to continue broadcasting Sunday coverage of each event until 2022, whilst a few big name line-up changes such as Jack Goff and Rob Austin have also been released, with the majority already confirmed. The BTCC kicks off with it’s annual season launch on the 22nd March at Donington Park, before attending the same ten rounds as last year, starting at Brands Hatch in April.
The full schedule and where to catch them on TV and online can be found at btcc.net.
British Superbikes (BSB)
British Superbikes are event further off, not starting until early April at Silverstone. No major changes to the series or circuits, other than some safety improvements at Oulton Park.
Another series to catch on ITV4, whilst all news and rider changes can be found on their website.
The big, and only significant, Formula One news is its move from BBC to Channel 4 on terrestrial television, whilst Sky Sports will continue to show the season in its full glory. No major news or changes to date, other than team’s backroom staff trying to change fortunes at the likes of McLaren. Most of the talk has been about technical changes for the 2017 season, but it’ll remain to be seen if the 2016 season throws up some more excitement.
F1 news can be found on most major news sites, but for the official releases, check out their website, F1.com.
Also, April will see the start of a few more series. MotoGP is still due to be shown on BT Sports, whilst Freeview channel Quest had event-by-event highlights of both the World Touring Car and World RallyCross championships last year, and will hopefully continue again for 2016. Across the channel, 18/19th January is the date set for the annual Le Mans 24-hour race.
Finally, circuits across the UK have begun compiling and selling tickets to their high and low profile and clubman events, as well as opening the circuits up to wannabe racers for track days.
By no means a complete summary of what to expect, but a good start none the less and good to see engines firing up nice and early. Let’s see what excitement 2016 brings!
by Tom McBeth