Monday, 23 December 2013

Dominik Wilde Motorsport Awards 2013

That's it, another motorsport season wrapped up. It's been a fantastic year and as with last season, to look back on the last 12 months here are the DW Motorsport awards.

Car of the year - Volkswagen Polo R WRC

Volkswagen returned to the World Rally Championship in spectacular fashion in 2013, sweeping the titles and winning 10 out of the 13 rallies in the season.

After devoting 2012 to testing and developing the Polo R WRC, Volkswagen were clearly very well prepared for their first WRC event since 1990. However, going up against the massively experienced Citroen and M-Sport Ford teams was never going to be an easy task for the German squad but that's exactly how they made it look.

By the end of the season, Sebastien Ogier had secured his first WRC title with nine wins, Jari-matti Latvala finished third in the standings with one win and Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen finished tenth in the standings despite missing the first three rallies.

Those that missed out - Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak (Pikes Peak), RedBull RB8 (Formula One), Ford Fiesta ST (Global RallyCross)

Manufacturer of the year - Audi

Audi had a fine 2013 clinching yet another Le Mans 24 Hours win as well as taking the DTM crown after a tough 2012 season in Germany's premier touring car series. in addition to these achievements, the Ingolstadt manufacturter's R8 sports car won several races around the world, including a class victory in the 24 Hours of Daytona.

2013 was the first year of the FIA's new World Endurance Championship for Le Mans Prototype and GTE race cars and Audi well and trully dominated the LMP1 class, winning six out of eight races - including the first five in a row!

Last year Audi only managed to claim two wins in the DTM, this season they went one better. On the road atleast. Mattias Ekstrom had his Norisring win snatched from him on a technicality meaning that once again they had only two wins out of 10 with both those wins coming from one driver - Mike Rockenfeller, who was to become the eventual champion

Those that missed out - Chevrolet (NASCAR, Rolex Sports Car Series, WTCC, IndyCar*) Ferrari (F1, WEC), Honda (WTCC, BTCC, IndyCar*), Mercedes-Benz (F1, DTM, Various GT Categories)

*Engine supplier

Breakthrough of the year - Thierry Neuville

Although not winning a major event this season, 2013 has deffinitely been a breakthrough year for the highly rated Belgian.

After a strong debut season, Neuville moved to M-Sport for this year where many expected him to be in the shaddow of another highly rated youngster, Mads Ostberg. However, it was Neuville who stole the show, notching up seven podiums, including an impressive run of five on the bounce in the middle of the season.

Now leading Hyundai's return to the WRC, expect big things from the 25 year old, if his new team can get the car right.

Those that missed out - Andrew Jordan (First BTCC title), Simon Pagenaud, Mike Conway (First IndyCar wins),  Pepe Oriola, James Nash, Tom Chilton (First WTCC wins)

Team Of The Year - Infiniti Red Bull Racing

Infiniti Red Bull Racing were in a class of their own this year and although Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes all managed to get to the top of the podium in the early stages, it's hard to ignore Red Bull's dominance in the second half of the season. A record breaking run of nine wins was more than enough for Sebastian Vettel to blow his rivals away and ensure he won a fourth consecutive World Drivers' title and the team their fourth constructors' title. Many teams from many series could lay a claim to 'team of the year' but dominance like Red Bull's hasn't been seen in Formula one for almost a decade and it takes more than one driver to achieve that.

Those that missed out -  Audi Sport Team Joest (WEC), Volkswagen Motorsport (WRC), RML Group (WTCC), Chip Ganassi Racing (IndyCar, Rolex Sports Car Series), Mercedes AMG Petronas (F1), AF Corse (WEC), 

Innovation of the year - Gymkhana at the X Games

Whilst not a technical innovation or indeed something all that new, 2013 saw Gymkhana added to the X Games bill for the first time.

This brought the discipline into the mainstream and brought something new to major motorsport. In contrast to Sebastian Vettel's fine for doing donuts, Gymkhana saw top drivers like Tanner Foust and Liam Doran putting on impressive smoke shows as they navigated a tight course against the clock in massively powerful rallycross supercars.

It's new and it's unlike anything else. hopefully it continues to gain momentum.

Comeback of the year - Robert Kubica

Back in 2011 Formula One sensation Robert Kubica was left fighting for his life after crashing out of the Ronde di Andora rally in Northern Italy.

Just two years on though the popular Pole was back competing full time. Currently unable to race single seaters due to his horrific injuries, the 2008 canadian Grand Prix winner dovetailed a part time European rally Championship campaign with a tilt at the WRC2 title. He only competed in seven of the 13 events in WRC2 but he won 5 of those, finishing sixth and second in his other two outings.

That impressive form was enough to earn a works Citroen ride int he WRC at the season ending Wales Rally GB. Despite rolling the car twice, he did enough to earn a full time WRC ride with M-Sport next season.

Those that missed out - Toomas Heikkinen (GRC title, winning after shattering his ankle in a crash at the LA X-Games in 2012), Volkswagen (Dominating the WRC after a 23 year absence), Scott Dixon (fighting back from seventh to win a third IndyCar title)

Race Of The Year - Sao Paulo Indy 300

The 2013 Sao Paulo Indy 300 was an incredible race. Whilst the world's premier single seater series was being blasted for gimmicks like DRS and the new Pirelli tyres as well as a lack of real racing, IndyCar was putting on a great show week after week and the race in Sao Paulo was to cream of the crop.

James Hinchcliffe won the race despite leading for less than half a mile. He passed former F1 driver Takuma Sato on the final turn of the final lap to take his second win of the season and deny Sato his second.

Driver Of The Year - Yvan Muller

With wins in the WRC, FIA GT and obliterating the Pikes Peak record it would be easy to give this to the multi-talented Sebastien Loeb again. Instead though it goes to his new team mate, Yvan Muller.

After Chevrolet withdrew their support for RML's WTCC programme, despite a very strong car, it would've been easy to think that Muller would struggle to dominate against the likes of Honda and youngsters like Tom Chilton and James Nash. The Frenchman though took seven wins and a further eight podiums to secure a record fourth World Touring Car title.

Next season will see him join Loeb at Citroen as the multiple WRC champions attempt to crack the world of circuit racing. Muller reckons next year will be good for those watching, saying recently "I think fans will see a spectacular championship" but with new rules, a new team to work with, and quite possibly the greatest driver in history as his team mate, 2014 has the potential to be extremely interesting for Muller too.

Those that missed out - Sebastien Loeb (WRC, FIA GT, Pikes Peak) Sebastian Vettel (F1), Scott Dixon (IndyCar), Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth (NASCAR), Toomas Heikkenen (GRC), Sebastien Ogier, Thierry Neuville, Robert Kubica (WRC)

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