THE various motorsport championships around the world have been run and won for the year, and the world’s race cars put into storage ahead of testing next year.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate what was another nailbiting season of racing, filled with equal measures of tragedy and triumph, punctuated by thrilling passes and jaw-dropping crashes.
We’ve decided to celebrate the racing year that was by honouring our favourite people, moments and races with some awards:
Jackie Chan Racing – 24 Hours of Le Mans
It’s four hours until the end of the biggest endurance race of the season – the 24 Hours of Le Mans – and an LMP2 car is leading the race. With a laptime roughly 10-11 seconds slower than the top-tier LMP1 weapons around the La Sarthe circuit, the thought of an LMP2 car leading the Le Mans outright is unthinkable. But motorsport fans, this wasn’t a dream, it was a reality which will haunt LMP1 teams for years to come.
The team that found itself at the front was Jackie Chan DC Racing (yes, THAT Jackie Chan). Unfortunately, Porsche managed to get one of its 919 LMP1 cars back on track and running in time to overtake the LMP2 minnow with two hours to spare. But, for a couple of glorious hours and for the first time in history, an LMP2 car led endurance racing’s greatest event before finishing second outright – outperforming multi-million-dollar factory squads.
Best social media
If you’re not already following Jordan Taylor on his various social media channels, change that. The American sportscar driver is one of the best ‘follows’ you can add to your feed. From his laugh-out-loud photo captions from flights, to his satirising of fellow racing drivers, to his backyard karting antics: Taylor is a refreshing change to the mountain of stale motorsport social media feeds.
Ricciardo kills three birds with one pass
Passing a single driver in a corner is just part of the job for racers. Passing two in a single curve is impressive. But dispatching three opponents in one foul swoop … well, that makes you Daniel Ricciardo.
The Aussie driver overtook Nico Hulkenberg, Lance Stroll, and Felipe Massa in one masterful movement during a restart at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The Honey Badger at his best.
Sebastien Buemi – Montreal Formula E ePrix
A bad day at work can grind the best of us down, but what happened to Sebastien Buemi in the Montreal Formula E race seemed to hit a nerve. With his title hopes on the line, Buemi got caught up in some early on-track carnage, with his race unravelling from there.
After losing the championship, Buemi went into full meltdown, picking verbal fights with three of his competitors in the space of a couple minutes. It’s quite something to watch.
We here at Wheels HQ are self-aware enough to realise our bias might be showing with this one, but it couldn’t be anyone else, could it? Daniel Ricciardo has earned himself a reputation of being a laugh in interviews traditionally reserved for dry PR-fed lines. He’s doing the country proud, not least for stealing Lewis Hamilton’s phone during the podium celebrations in Mexico.
Not convinced? Watch his antics during a rain delay when qualifying at Monza, when the Aussie snatches a broadcast camera to go spy on his rivals at Mercedes.
Erebus was the little team that could, winning the biggest race of the Aussie motorsport calendar. David Reynolds and Luke Youlden’s victory at this year’s Bathurst 1000 was one for the ages -while Erebus Motorsport’s team owner Betty Klimenko has undoubtedly deep pockets, the squad has downsized in recent years and struggled for on-track performance. However, this year it has shaken off that reputation, and asserted its authority by adding taking the Peter Brock Trophy home from Mount Panorama following an unpredictable, wet, wild and thrilling endurance race.
Fernando Alonso’s engine failure – Indianapolis 500
It was the news which shocked the motorsport community, Fernando Alonso, two-time world driver’s champion and McLaren Formula 1 driver would snub the Monaco Grand Prix to compete in the Indinapolis 500. Rated as one of the best living racing drivers around, it was no surprise Alonso adapted to oval racing swiftly. A solid qualifying performance was followed by a measured and impressive drive in the race. The Spaniard was leading the biggest single-day sporting event in the world on his first attempt, and victory looked assured.
But then ghosts of F1 engines past came back to haunt Alonso, and his Honda engine failed. It was a cruel twist of the knife for a man who has suffered at the hands of Honda’s turbo V6 engines for two years, and was clearly hoping for a reprieve.
Best race car
Porsche 919 Hybrid
Officially being retired in Bahrain, Porsche’s LMP1 racer will be sorely missed from the world’s racetracks in 2018. Being sacrificed so the brand can join the growing ranks of Formula E, the 919 is headed to the halls of Porsche’s retirement warehouse with an illustrious record. The 2.0-litre V4 turbo hybrid accrued a trio of drivers’ and constructors’ championships, along with 16 victories and 11 pole positions from just 33 races. The LMP1 category, and the motorsport world, is poorer for its departure.
Best race team
While technically the factory Ford squad, M-Sport receives little to no funding from the Blue Oval, making it a well-heeled privateer team. Building all-new cars to meet WRC’s new 2017 regulations, and with a star recruit in Sebastien Ogier, M-Sport went on to win both drivers’ and constructor’s championships, along with four rallies during the season.
Best victory celebration
Shane van Gisbergen – Winton
There could only be one, the king of victory celebrations in Supercars, Shane van Gisbergen. The Kiwi’s antics in Winton after his victory was one of the best he’s put down. A stout burnout, followed by sideways tyre-frying antics for the majority of the circuit. Watch, and enjoy. RIP tyres.