Huff beats Muller in Porto
Rob Huff chases down and catches Chevy teammate Yvan Muller, pulling alongside and past the Frenchman into one of the tight Portuguese street track's chicanes. Huff attempts to turn in ahead, but there is contact. Huff goes across the inside of the chicane and keeps the lead to score his sixth win of the year. The momentum certainly seemed to be with Huff at the halfway point, but Muller would come back from this incident bigger and better to overhaul the Brit and win a third world title.
Sky’s F1 deal
From a personal view there was the excitement of Nick Heidfeld's car catching fire and exploding in front of us in the Hungarian Grand Prix, and the mix of exhaustion and contentment that I felt as the top three Britcar 24 Hours runners came to a stop beside me under the Silverstone podium, signalling the end of a busy 24 hours of reporting for this site. From a wider perspective, however, the moment someone from Sky Sports put their signature on a contract to show Formula 1 is one of the most significant of the year. This deal marks a radical change in how the sport is transmitted to some of its most dedicated fans, and it could have huge implications for the future of F1.
Alonso’s start at Monza
There have been many in 2012, some sadly more disconcerting. The standout moment that provided me with the most emotion was Fernando Alonso‘s extraordinary start at his home Grand Prix, storming to the front of the field from fourth on the grid in the Ferrari. I was stunned in disbelief, a moment perhaps written in the storms. It was a brief, yet brilliant, high point in the race for Fernando but it was incredible nonetheless.
Moment Of The Year – RML's Donington Rebuild
Jason Plato has just barrel rolled out of the second BTCC race at Donington Park, he physically and mentally battered by the accident at the thought of ending his weekend a race early and facing not scoring on an unhappy weekend. Cue a miraculous rebuild from the Silverline Chevrolet team in time for a superlative recovery drive almost forgotten during the rest of the season. Every possible panel on the car was replaced, a new aerial taped to the door, the entire team involved, including Plato's father polishing the buckled roof. Enough cannot be said for the team, you wonder how many teams would even contemplate attempting the task.
Moment Of The Year – Tom Boardman’s “Great” Silverstone
Moving away from Australian V8 Supercars to British Touring Cars, my moment of the year was provided by Special Tuning Racing's Tom Boardman (and not just because I help out with their PR!) Most of you will be thinking I'm going to say the win at Knockhill, but it was actually the final two races at Silverstone. After his move on Plato at Knockhill, Tom got a bit of needless grief, so to watch him storm through to finish race two in sixth after starting from 23rd and then finishing the final race in third on his own merit was special. Tom was ecstatic afterwards, telling me: “That has to be one of the best races I've had all season! I know my win at Knockhill was good, but that felt great!” It was a poignant moment, knowing how hard the team had worked to get the cars fighting at the front and for Tom to show he can genuinely cut it with the best of them.
British Formula 3 Paul Ricard, Final Corner, Final Lap
An edgy, race-long tussle between key championships contenders, Felipe Nasr and Kevin Magnussen, apparently wasn't interesting enough for feisty Portuguese series-hopper Antonio Felix Da Costa, who made his presence felt throughout his guest appearance at the Paul Ricard weekend from the first corner to the lastâ€¦Magnussen, Da Costa and Nasr ran nose-to-tail throughout, with a resilient Magnussen looking set to hold off strong opposition and claim a much needed win for his stuttering championship campaign. But, with the chequered flag in sight, an all-too-late lunge at the last corner from Da Costa saw the young Dane flicked off the circuit, allowing Nasr through to take yet another win. It not only sent pulses racing, but also managed to define each protagonist's season in some respects – Da Costa's wild racecraft, Nasr's consistency and Magnussen's awful luck.
Mark Webber’s pass at Eau Rouge
I've been fortunate enough to witness and be part of a number of great moments over the past year within motorsport and will have many stories to tell my grandchildren. But one moment that I couldn't let pass without mentioning was a real breathtaking moment which sums up just what it takes to be a great racing driver. I am of course talking about Mark Webber's stunning overtake on Fernando Alonso during the Belgian Grand Prix. Having got a better exit from La Source, Webber was gaining on the Spaniard down the hill towards Eau Rouge tucked into the slip stream. Assuming he would wait for the run up to Les Combes and the DRS Zone to make his move, remarkably we witnessed Webber pull out and pass the Ferrari round the outside and through Eau Rouge in a move which would normally end in tears. It was a remarkable manoeuvre and one that many would never even consider but was executed with skill and precision by the Aussie.
Dan Wheldon’s fatal crash
Sadly, this has to go to the death of Dan Wheldon – the ramifications of which may be felt in motor racing for years to come. Since the crash, noises for better cockpit protection for single-seater's have grown louder, while IndyCar's days at high-banked ovals may be numbered. With IndyCar struggling for ovals, Wheldon's death – amongst all the pointless greed and bickering of the owners and organisers – may finally be what defines the future of IndyCar. That Wheldon was about to move to a new chapter as the driver of Andretti–Autosport's Go Daddy car makes it all the more tragic. A true superstar was lost.
Teammates get it wrong
There are two moments that stand out for me, both being incidents that stunned me into silence when team-mates got it wrong on track. First was the Honda Racing mix-up at Oulton Park in the BTCC, when Matt Neal made a last lap, final corner lunge at Gordon Shedden and resulted in putting them both through the gravel, cueing shocked faces from everyone watching.
The other was in the Formula Renault BARC opener at Croft, when the Fortec Motorsport team had a disaster. Braking for the first corner on the opening lap, contact between three of the Fortec cars resulted in its two title contenders, Josh Webster and Archie Hamilton, ending their races in the gravel, to the disbelief of those in attendance. This proved decisive in Webster narrowly missing out on the title.
Seeing Liam Doran take X Games Gold was a definite highlight of my year. I've been a fan of the X Games for some years and the recent addition of Rallycross has been excellent. Seeing Liam Doran work his way through the heats to face a head to head with rally legend Marcus Gronholm was amazing. Who would have thought a British driver in Downtown Los Angeles could cause such an upset on his X Games debut.
Faubel and Zarco's Dead Heat in Germany
Even now, I look at the photo finish from that day and still can't believe what I'm seeing! The 125cc class is no stranger to close finishes but this was incredible. Never in the history of Grand Prix motorcycle racing had we seen a dead heat and the winner decided by a tiebreak. The fastest lap of the race swung it Faubel's way. On four wheels, the Honda implosion at the final corner at Oulton Park stands out as a jaw dropping moment from the BTCC while Jenson Button's last lap win in Canada also had me shouting at the telly!
It’s difficult to describe just how epic the final two laps of the British Superbike Championship were. As Shane Byrne ran away with the victory in the final race at Brands Hatch, the title contenders were locked in a titanic duel for second. As the laps counted down to the penultimate tour, John Hopkins and Tommy Hill. After swapping positions at practically every corner, it came down to a sprint for the line out of the final corner. In the end, Tommy Hill walked away from Brands with the British title, and the honour of being part of two of the greatest laps of racing ever witnessed.