Sunday, 20 December 2015

Dominik Wilde Motorsport Awards 2015

For the fourth time, Dominik Wilde Motorsport brings you the annual DW Motorsport awards where we look back at the great and good from the last year in motorsport.

Car of the year - Volkswagen Beetle GRC

This is an award that could've gone to either of the previous two winners (Volkswagen's Polo WRC or Citroën's C-Elysée) or Mercedes' all conquering W06 Hybrid Formula One car. In the end the award goes to another dominant championship winning machine.

The first half of the 2015 Red Bull GRC season saw the Beetle take just two wins, only one of those counting towards the championship but later in the year something clicked and the Beetle was unstoppable, winning four races in a row - a feat that has not been achieved since Olsbergs won five in a row with Topi Heikkinen in 2013. They could very well have equalled that run if it wasn't for a conservative drive to third in wet conditions at the final round from Scott Speed. Still, that ensured he took the title and the Beetle was victorious in it's first full season of competition.

At the end of the year, the Beetle took 6 wins (five in championship rounds) and a further eight podium finishes. Had Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross unlocked the car's potential earlier you can be sure that those numbers would be considerably higher.

Those that missed out - Volkswagen Polo R WRC (WRC), Mercedes F1 W06 Hybrid, Ferrari SF15-T (Formula One), Citroën C-Elysée (WTCC), Honda Civic Type R NGTC, Volkswagen CC NGTC (BTCC), M-Sport Ford Fiesta RX (GRC) Dallara Chevrolet DW12 (IndyCar), Porsche 919 Hybrid (WEC)

Manufacturer of the year - Porsche

The international sports car scene was dominated by one name in 2015: Porsche.

The Stuttgart manufacturer took a brace of FIA WEC crowns, beating Ferrari to GT honours and scooping the main LMP1-H prize just two years after returning. Porsche also took the manufacturers title in the IMSA Tudor United Sports Car Championship but there were two results for Porsche that stand out above all of those.

At Le Mans Porsche were unstoppable, taking pole by breaking the lap record before finishing the race in first and second place, the part time #19 entry of Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber and Nico Hulkenberg claiming the top spot. The win for Porsche extended their record of most overall wins at Le Mans to 17 but that wasn't all.

At Road Atlana for Petit Le Mans, one of the IMSA Tudor United Sports Car championship's flagship events, Porsche didn't really have a chance of overall victory. The top class there was split between LMP2 and Daytona Prototypes, two types of cars that Porsche neither builds or competes with. Yet it was one of their 991 911 RSRs that took the checkered flag first after abysmal weather conditions put paid to prototype chances to hand Porsche a shock win and an even more surprising overall Le Mans and Petit double.

Those that missed out - Mercedes-Benz (F1, DTM, Various GT Categories) Volkswagen (WRC, GRC)

Breakthrough of the year - Scott Speed's Red Bull Global Rallycross championship win

After winning on his first Red Bull GRC start back in 2013 a championship victory for Scott Speed one day was a certainty. It was a case of when, not if, and after coming achingly close in 2014 Speed went into this year as a firm favourite.

Things didn't quite go to plan at first and after August's DC round Speed looked like a huge outsider for the title.

Just three weeks later however he took an impressive brace of victories at the Los Angeles double header, setting him up for a clear run to a first Red Bull GRC championship.

Now with that out of the way how many can he go on to take?

Those that missed out - Josef Newgarden (First IndyCar wins), Nelson Piquet Jr. (first Rallycross/GRC win), Kyle Busch (first NASCAR Sprint Cup title), Jack Goff (first BTCC Win), Tom Ingram (first BTCC podiums)

Team Of The Year - Team BMR

It only seems like yesterday when Team BMR entered the British Touring Car championship running an ageing Seat Leon S2000 for Warren Scott. That's Probably because it was. Well, pretty much.

After two years in Britain's premier tin-top series the former British Superbike squad entered the 2015 with a massive signal of intent. Joining the team was double champions Jason Plato and Colin Turkington to race alongside Aron Smith and Scott, as well as respected engineers Carl Faux and Kevin Berry who moved over from MG and WSR.

Despite the ambitious changes, few would have expected them to be as strong as they were. 10 wins, seven fastest laps, four pole positions and two of the team's four drivers in the title fight were what BMR had to show for 2015. In no time at all they've gone from being unknowns to a feared force.

Those that missed out -
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team, Scuderia Ferrari (F1), Volkswagen Motorsport (WRC, GRC (With Andretti)), Citroën Racing (WTCC, WRC), CFH Racing (IndyCar), Team Penske (IndyCar, NASCAR) Chip Ganassi Racing (IndyCar, NASCAR, GRC, USCC), Joe Gibbs Racing, Furnite Row Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing (NASCAR)

Innovation of the year - IndyCar Aerokits

Not a lot of people liked the introduction of aerokits to IndyCar this year.

The bodywork packages were introduced to allow differentiation between the different engine manufacturers as well as further competition between GM and Honda. Skeptics said either go to full car competition or stick with a spec series, not this half-way house that we ended up with.

However, with the economic situation as it is and IndyCar's struggles over the years the aerokits provided something of a fair compromise. We had different cars competing (sort of), and we kept the close racing that we'd become used to with the base Dallara DW12. That's a win in my book.

Comeback of the year - Kyle Busch's NASCAR Sprint Cup championship win

A lot has been made of Kyle Busch’s triumphant Sprint Cup season this year. After missing 11 races with a broken right leg and left foot, the Las Vegas native went on to claim 16 top fives, five wins – including three in a row – and his first NASCAR Sprint Cup title.

Such is the way that NASCAR’s polarising Chase format, it didn’t matter that Busch was forced onto the sidelines, so long as he got the right results at the right time to ensure qualification for the playoff in the latter part of the season. That he did and although many fans will say he’s not the ‘real’ champion (had they been using the pre-2004 points system, he would not have been champion) but the drivers have to play with the cards they’re dealt and Busch did exactly what was necessary to give him the championship.

Agree or not, Kyle Busch went from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs and was the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion. Not many would have predicted that after his horror smash at Daytona back in February.

Those that missed out - Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross (dominating the latter stages of the Red Bull GRC season after a slow start), Scuderia Ferrari (winning three races after an underwhelming season last year)

Race of The Year - United States Grand Prix

Although there’s no denying it was a fantastic race, the US Grand Prix gets the nod from me for showing us what F1 was still capable of.

Amongst the doom and gloom surrounding the sport – high costs, low viewing figures, and constant talk of ‘improving the show’ in light of a couple of pretty boring seasons competition-wise, the US Grand Prix gave us everything. Lead changes, mixed weather, on track clashes between team mates, and to ‘cap’ it off, controversy.

After the abysmal weather that hit Austin in the days leading up to the race there was doubt as to whether the race would even go ahead at first but thankfully it did. Nico Rosberg is forced out by team mate Lewis Hamilton early on before conceding the lead to Daniel Ricciardo during a damp spell but the Mercedes duo were soon back at the fore with Rosberg leading Hamilton until he was blown off track, gifting the win to the Brit.

Tensions were high afterwards in the aptly named ‘cool down room’ and what followed was the infamous cap throwing incident between the two Mercedes team mates.

If only F1 was this interesting each week.

Those that missed out - Los Angeles I Semi Final B (GRC), Petit Le Mans (USCC), Moscow EPrix (Formula E), MAVTV 500, Honda Indy 200 (IndyCar), Southern 500 (NASCAR)

Driver Of The Year - Juan Pablo Montoya

When he returned to open wheel competition last year many wondered whether Juan Pablo Montoya could still cut it after almost a decade racing stock cars.

If a win on his comeback year didn't prove doubters wrong, this year certainly did. This time it was two wins, one of which was the Indianapolis 500, and he sat atop of the points standings for all season...

Except for when it ended. He may not have wont he championship in the end but 2015 proved that Montoya is one of the greatest all-round drivers of his generation.

Those that missed out - Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel (F1) Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch (NASCAR), Nelson Piquet Jr., Scott Speed (GRC, Formula E), Sebastien Ogier (WRC), Graham Rahal, Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden (IndyCar), Nick Tandy (WEC)

Images - Dutch Photo Agency*, Dominik Wilde, Chris Tedesco*, IndyCar Media,, Getty Images*
* Via Red Bull Content Pool

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