Start, IndyCar Baltimore Grand Prix, 2011

F1 may not have a close title fight but these five do

Why you should watch...Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Start, IndyCar Baltimore Grand Prix, 2011
Start, IndyCar Baltimore Grand Prix, 2011

Sebastian Vettel’s rivals have all-but conceded this year’s championship following his eighth win of the season at Monza.

So if you’re looking for a close championship battle, now’s the time to cast your gaze beyond Formula 1.

Here’s a selection of top racing series with rather more exciting championship battles.


Driver Points
1 Dario Franchitti 507
2 Will Power 502
3 Scott Dixon 430

In the past three races, Will Power has cut Dario Franchitti’s lead from 62 points to just five.

IndyCar’s mix of road, street and oval courses will play a role in deciding the outcome of this championship: Franchitti tends to do better on ovals, Power on road and street courses.

This weekend’s race in Japan was supposed to take place on the Motegi oval. But that was damaged during the March earthquake so the teams have switched to the road course instead, which could be good news for Power.

After that Power has two races on ovals to contend with, in Kentucky and Las Vegas. Last year he went into the final round 12 points up on Franchitti, but the title slipped from his grasp.

Will Franchitti beat Power again to claim his third championship in a row?

Adding more intrigue to the season finale, Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon will return to compete for a special prize. He’ll bag $2.5 million if he wins from last on the grid, with the same amount going to a fan at the race.

This one’s too good to miss, so we’ll be following the last two rounds on F1 Fanatic Live.

Races remaining: Three
Points: 50 for a win, two for most laps led and one for pole position
Will I be watching?: Definitely. UK coverage is on Sky Sports.

British Touring Car Championship

Driver Points
1 Gordon Shedden 182
2 Matt Neal 181
3 Mat Jackson 159
4 Jason Plato 147
5 James Nash 135
6 Andrew Jordan 121

After a few shaky years, the BTCC is well and truly back to its best. That’s why I’ve already been to four rounds this year, at Brands Hatch, Thruxton, Oulton Park and Snetterton.

Honda team mates Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden are at the front of the title battle and they’ve already collided earlier this year.

Mat Jackson slipped to third after a disastrous meeting in Knockhill.

Reigning champion Jason Plato’s hopes of retaining his crowd will be boosted this weekend at Rockingham as BTCC continues to fine-tune the current rules balancing the performance of the cars. Plato’s normally-aspirated Chevrolet will be unaffected, but several of his rivals will have less turbo boost and more weight.

The Silverstone finale is in the afternoon following the Korean Grand Prix and ahead of the IndyCar final at Las Vegas, which will make for a great day of racing on F1 Fanatic Live.

Start, British Touring Cars, Knockhill, 2011
Start, British Touring Cars, Knockhill, 2011

Races remaining: Nine (Three triple-headers)
Points: 15 for a win, one for fastest lap and leading a lap, and one for pole position for race one of each weekend
Will I be watching?: Unfortunately I can’t make it to any of the remaining rounds but I will be watching ITV’s excellent live coverage.

World Series by Renault

Driver Points
1 Robert Wickens 198
2 Jean-Eric Vergne 164
3 Daniel Ricciardo 125
4 Albert Costa 120
5 Kevin Korjus 118
6 Alexander Rossi 116

Robert Wickens, who had his first run in an F1 car with Virgin on Tuesday, has a healthy 34-point margin with 100 points to be won in the World Series by Renault.

But he’s up against strong opposition in the shape of Red Bull development drivers Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo, both of which have British F3 championship titles to their name.

Ricciardo, runner-up in this series last year, is a creditable third having missed the first two races while on duty for Toro Rosso.

Daniel Ricciardo, World Series by Renault, 2011
Daniel Ricciardo, World Series by Renault, 2011

Now racing in F1 for HRT, he may have to miss the final two races which clash with the Japanese Grand Prix.

Races remaining: Four (two double-headers)
Points: Same as F1
Will I be watching?: If Eurosport are showing any of the races live I will.


Driver Points
1 Martin Tomczyk 50
2 Bruno Spengler 49
3 Mattias Ekstrom 29
4 Timo Scheider 29
5 Jamie Green 25
6 Mike Rockenfeller 23
7 Ralf Schumacher 21

Audi’s Martin Tomcyk leads Mercedes’ Bruno Spengler by a single point in Germany’s premier touring car series.

While five other drivers are mathematically capable of winning, it’s likely one of these two drivers will claim their first DTM championship wins.

Tomcyk came through to win in a wet race at Brands Hatch at the beginning of the month.

The championship may be close but it’s not been a sparkling year in the DTM for racing.

Martin Tomczyk, Audi A4, Brands Hatch, DTM, 2011
Martin Tomczyk, Audi A4, Brands Hatch, DTM, 2011

That will hopefully change next year with the introduction of new cars and the arrival of BMW.

Races remaining: Three
Points: Ten for a win (same as F1’s 2003-09 system)
Will I be watching?: I’d give it a look if I could but it’s on ESPN in the UK.


Driver Points
1 Kyle Busch 2012
2 Kevin Harvick 2012
3 Jeff Gordon 2009
4 Matt Kenseth 2006
5 Carl Edwards 2003
6 Jimmie Johnson 2003
7 Kurt Busch 2003
8 Ryan Newman 2003
9 Tony Stewart 2000
10 Dale Earnhardt Jnr 2000
11 Brad Keselowski 2000
12 Denny Hamlin 2000

If F1 used NASCAR’s ‘Chase for the Cup’ the championship would look very different.

In NASCAR the points are reset with ten races remaining so the highest 12 drivers in the championship have near-equal tallies, and only they can claim the crown.

Jimmie Johnson has made the Chase his speciality and could claim the title for an astonishing sixth year in a row this season.

So should F1 use something like the chase to keep the championship alive until the end?

I don’t think so – for me, the champion should be the driver with the best result over a full season’s racing. Even if that does mean wrapping things up early, as will almost certainly be the case in F1 this year.

Races remaining: Ten
Points: 46 for a win, one for leading a lap and one for leading the most laps
Will I be watching?: Even if it was on anywhere I could see it I wouldn’t bother. For various reasons, NASCAR isn’t my cup of tea.

Other series

Start, NASCAR, Richmond International Raceway, 2011
Start, NASCAR, Richmond International Raceway, 2011

The World Touring Car Championship is a close affair between Yvan Muller and Rob Huff. But, like the DTM, the races haven’t been great this year. That said the end-of-season race at Macau is always worth a look.

What was shaping up to be a great battle between the two Sebastiens in Citroen’s World Rally Championship team – Loeb and Ogier – had the edge taken off it after Citroen began using team orders to favour Loeb.

In Superleague Formula, the football-themed series which morphed into an A1 Grand Prix-style countries’ championship, the major point of interest late in the season is which races will actually take place.

Having held six races at Assen and Zolder this year, it has postponed a round in Russia and cancelled races in New Zealand, Brazil and a planned second event in South America.

Are you keeping tabs on the championship battles in other series like Moto GP, Formula Two or others?

Tell us which racing series are you watching over the closing months of 2011 – the more obscure the better!

Why you should watch…

Images ?? IndyCar/Shawn Gritzmacher, BTCC, Renault, DTM, Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR