Features 16 Feb 2017

Top 10: Must-watch 2017 events

Races you should pencil into the calendar for this season.

There are all kinds of races on the international racing calendar that deserve props, but from an Australian perspective, we can’t look past the following events. First rounds, title-deciders and other pivotal rounds make for increased entertainment, resulting in this month’s Top 10 feature assessing the must-watch events of the year.

Source: Supplied.

1. Superbike World Championship/Australian Superbike Championship (Phillip Island):
As the opening round of both championships, we can’t look past the Phillip Island WorldSBK and ASBK double-header that will take place next weekend! Sure, it’s not MotoGP, but the excitement for the 2017 racing season both abroad and locally has reached fever-pitch. Internationally, Australia will be right behind out top wildcards of Josh Brookes and Ant West, while WorldSSP regulars Aiden Wagner and Lachlan Epis will also take centre-stage at home. The domestic series is shaping up to be one for the ages, setting the tone for a mega season to come.

2. MotoGP World Championship (Phillip Island):
Lets face it, for many, this is the go-to event of the year. We only get one opportunity to see the likes of Marquez, Rossi, Miller and co. down under on a race weekend and the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix is it. Usually, the championship is at its business-end (unless otherwise wrapped up sooner), which makes for even more tantalising action for fans watching on at Phillip Island. If you can make it, definitely head down and watch live – if only just to hear the sounds of the premier class!

3. MotoGP World Championship (Valencia):
If the championship isn’t decided early, there’s very few events that are able to match the nail-biting action of Valencia’s finals. Thinking back over the years, there have been some brilliant races at a circuit that lends itself to incredible competition. Fingers crossed that for this year we can see the championships – from MotoGP to Moto3 – go down to the wire once again and we’ll be sure to be watching all the way.

4. Australian Superbike Championship (Phillip Island):
This season the ASBK will visit Phillip Island not once, but twice, as the series is capped off in October. If last year is any indication, the points-race will be taken all the way to the seventh and final round in an expanded series. It’ll also be a nice warm-up ahead of the Australian grand prix just a couple of weeks afterwards.

5. MotoGP World Championship (Qatar):
Hype entering the new season is always huge entering the Losail Circuit, regardless of all the pre-season coverage we see in the lead-up. There’s something about Qatar being under lights and even though it’s not as ideal as the European rounds in terms of what time the race is aired in Australia, bike fans will be watching on in a major way. Hopefully, our lone premier class contender Jack Miller can make a major impact at to commence his third season in MotoGP.

Source: Supplied.

6. Superbike World Championship (Qatar):
Unlike a year prior, we saw Jonathan Rea clinch his second-straight WorldSBK crown at Qatar’s final round, although it was always pretty obvious entering the weekend that he’d get the job done. The atmosphere isn’t massive considering its the title-deciding round, however if the standings are tight going in, interest will most certainly be raised. And hopefully that’s what happens!

7. MotoGP World Championship (Jerez):
It’s not until four rounds into the season that MotoGP actually arrives in Europe, which will happen at the Southern Spanish circuit of Jerez in May. We will see the basis of the series in Qatar, Argentina and America, but things always seem to settle in once the Jerez round comes around. From there, the championship will remain in Europe all the way until the traditional fly-aways, beginning with Motegi in October.

8. Australian Superbike Championship (Wakefield Park):
It’s one thing seeing the ASBK series open at Phillip Island on WorldSBK weekend, but in reality the national series is pegged on the back of the world championship event. So, come Wakefield Park in March, it’s Motorcycling Australia’s (MA) first standalone round on the schedule and we here tend to really like the action that the Goulburn venue produces. Plus, it’s the first chance we get to see selected classes take to the grid.

9. Endurance World Championship (Suzuka 8 Hours):
Australians have long managed to make their mark in Japan, which these days is one of the most important rounds of the EWC series. More importantly, for this year’s edition it will double as the final round of the world championship. The Japanese teams – hopefully with some Aussies on-board – will

10. British Superbike Championship (Donington Park):
With a broad range of Australians lining up across various categories within the BSB, this is sure to be high on the radar from an Aussie perspective. The opening round of the British series always seems to take some time to come around, but once it does then each round is world-class. Expect in-depth coverage from start to finish this time around on this very website.