It’s that time of year again and the TCF team have got together to choose their favourite things of the 2015 season, starting here with the Race of the Year.
Gemma Bray & Paul Hensby- F1 Hungarian Grand Prix
It was perhaps the best Grand Prix of the season, and baring in mind the drivers came into the weekend with the tragic news of Jules Bianchi’s passing, the action that took place would have gone down well with the much-missed Frenchman.
For the second race weekend in a row, the Mercedes duo saw their front row start come to nothing when Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen jumped to the front, while Lewis Hamilton’s first lap also saw him run through the gravel trap, while he also broke his front wing and received a drive-through penalty for a clash with Daniel Ricciardo.
Team-mate Nico Rosberg was on course to claim the championship lead, but a late race clash of his own with Ricciardo saw the German plummet to eighth.
Vettel stormed to his second victory of the season, with Daniil Kvyat claiming his maiden career podium in second, ahead of Red Bull team-mate Ricciardo. Raikkonen should have secured a Ferrari 1-2 behind Vettel, but a mechanical issue saw his race end early, while there were fights up and down the field for position, with Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso finishing fourth and fifth.
Bianchi would have been proud.
Matt Bristow – British Rallycross – Supercar final – Round 7 at Lydden Hill
Back in August, where the top 4 cars all finished within a few seconds of each other. With Ollie O’Donovan (3:25.589) taking the honors, ahead of Kevin Procter (3:25.809), Andy Scott (3:26.143) and Julian Godfrey (3:26.817)
Joshua Close & Louis Suddaby – MotoGP Australian Grand Prix
This was a coin-flip between two but the flag-to-flag thriller from Misano narrowly misses out. The Australian Grand Prix came at a crucial point in the championship with Valentino Rossi defending an 18 point lead over Jorge Lorenzo and the title permutations added to the drama throughout a spectacular race.
Rossi was a consistent challenger throughout but never actually led the race, ultimately settling for fourth, while Andrea Iannone was the star of the show. ‘The Maniac’ did things with the Ducati GP15 that few onlookers thought were possible as he took it to the brink of victory, even overtaking Rossi and Marc Marquez in a single move. Nothing would stand in his way, not even an unwitting seagull.
In the end though, it was left to Marquez, who had earlier started from pole, to chase down Jorge Lorenzo and after 26 breathtaking laps, Marquez produced one of his greatest ever on the 27th and final tour, overturning a 0.778s deficit to snatch victory from the eventual champion three corners from home. An instant classic and MotoGP at its very best.
Chloe Hewitt – GP2 Monza
Described as “the greatest GP2 race ever” by Jolyon Palmer, it is impossible to look past Mitch Evans’ performance at Monza as race of the year.
Having been disqualified from his second place on the grid due to a tyre pressure infringement the Kiwi was forced to start Saturday’s Feature Race down in 23rd place, with the negativity from the difficult start of the season setting in once again for Evans who managed to convert this into an incredible third place on the podium after demonstrating his great skill and race craft to fight his way through the field.
A sixth place start of the grid for Evans on Sunday meant he had a much easier task of finishing on the podium. At the race start he was already up to second place behind Arthur Pic who sat behind until he made his move on the first corner of the final lap to take his first victory since the German Feature Race back in 2014.
Joe Hudson – Blancpain Endurance Series Paul Ricard
Put top class GT3 cars on Paul Ricard for six hours and you’ll get racing like no other and by god the Blancpain Endurance Series put on one hell of a show in France.
The first half of the race saw a plethora of teams challenging for the lead before the Nissan entry of Wolfgang Reip, Alex Buncombe and Katsumasa Chiyo took up the lead midway through the race and put on a masterclass of how to maintain a lead in the face of hard competition.
That came from the Bentley of Guy Smith, Steven Kane and Andy Meyrick who rang the neck of their Continental and, in the last 15 minutes of the race, it seemed that they could upset the Nissan squad but a late spin and clip of the barriers ended that battle early.
Connor Jackson – MotoGP Grand Final
It’s rare that I’ll go out of my way to watch a race, but this time I listened to the hype. While I admit I’ve never follow Motorcycle racing that intensely, I was fully aware of the rivalry and the credibility of the names going into the final, as well as the event of two weeks prior.
It’s almost synonymous to say Valentino Rossi and MotoGP, but like so many greats, he’s not infallible. While a race doesn’t need politics to be exciting, (in fact, more often than not, it’s just about pure racing,) the visible tension only added to the spectacle.
Having started provisionally last, I was truly impressed at the drive Rossi put in to drag his Yamaha into the top four, even if rumour suggests that may have been partially assisted. But like in Malaysia the key man was Marc Marquez.
For me the highlight came in the closing laps as Dani Pedrosa found himself denied by a team mate not willing to play ball. The race may very well have drawn the battle lines for years to come.
Phil Kinch – World Rallycross – Supercar Semi-Final 2, Hell
Andrew Coley summed this one up nicely during the live commentary: “Somebody threw a hand grenade in the room and ran away!”
It started with Mattias Ekstrom, Topi Heikkinen and Timur Timerzyanov going three wide into the joker lap with contact ensuing as they rejoined the lap with Heikkinen ahead. Later on in the race saw contact between the Olsbergs Ford Fiesta of Andreas Bakkerud and the SDRX Citroen DS3 of Petter Solberg at the bottom of the hill with Rene Munnich in his Audi A3 making up places in the process.
But it doesnt stop there!! Lap three saw Solberg make contact with Ekstrom’s Audi S1 resulting in Solberg slowing with damage as Timerzyanov made contact with Solberg also. A lap later into turn on saw the former Double EuroRX Champion roll his Olsbergs Fiesta after running into the back of the EKSRX Audi. Add into this Bakkerud making contact in his Fiesta and Heikkinen crossing the line to win in one piece and this was an amazing example of how exciting WorldRX is.
This all had me gripped to my tablet during the live event and each time I hear somebody say that motorsport is boring, I point out the spectacle of WorldRX… An amazing race!
Daniel Lloyd – 6 Hours of Silverstone
Despite the absence of Nissan from the first round of the World Endurance Championship, April’s 6 Hours of Silverstone provided an epic melange of sportscar entertainment that established the 2015 race as an all-time classic. While the pole-sitting Porsche 919 hit gearbox trouble early on, the remaining Porsche fought a race-long battle with the #7 Audi R-18 e-tron uattro, featuring a terrific duel between Swiss drivers Neel Jani and Marcel Fässler.
The Porsche was unquestionably the quickest car on the straights, but Audi’s high downforce solution prevailed as Fässler, Benoît Tréluyer and André Lotterer won the RAC Tourist Trophy for the first time. G-Drive Racing, AF Corse and Aston Martin reigned in their respective classes to cap a memorable day for the WEC and a fitting start the new season.
Dan Mason & Lee Bonham – BTCC finale – Brands Hatch
Many championships enjoyed a classic race during the 2015 season, making it a tough one to call this year. Title-deciding encounters for both Formula 1 and MotoGP were certainly dramatic, but the most gripping title decider came from the British Touring Car Championship as the latest chapter of Gordon Shedden and Jason Plato’s rivalry concluded in a thrilling, tense finale at Brands Hatch GP circuit.
A rough day for series leader Shedden saw him needing to climb from 19th to fifth to stand a chance of a second title, with Plato running away from the front after side-stepping Honda’s Matt Neal at the start of the 30th and final race.
Three tedious safety car interruptions threatened to derail Shedden’s recovery attempt, but what followed in 10 laps was a superb comeback as the Scot carved through the pack in a bid to grab the title. Moves such as the cutback inside Aron Smith at Clearways, the late-braking pass outside Rob Collard into Paddock Hill and a decisive lunge inside Adam Morgan at the same spot a few laps later all paved the way to a fine title victory, a gracious Plato unlucky to miss out once again on another day that he gave it his all.
Katy McConnachie – MotoGP – Malaysian Grand Prix
What an entertaining race Malaysian Grand Prix had turned out to be, controversial, but entertaining for all those who were watching at home. Dani Pedrosa took a spectacular win but of course this was overshadowed by the incident.
Although what happened between Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi had everyone talking and not particularly saying pleasant things as they argued over who was at fault, it was nice to have a bit of racing drama which then continued into the final race of the MotoGP season in Valencia and kept everyone on the edge of their seats.
This became one of those races that everyone will be talking about for years to come because the drama that unfolded during and then after the incident was just unbelievably extraordinary. It had the entire world talking.
Simon Paice – Indy 500
This year I was lucky enough to go across the pond and experience my first Indy 500, and it certainly didn’t disappoint with the atmosphere, the sound, the speed and the sheer size and majesty of the speedway being unlike anything I had ever experienced before.
It was a special moment, made even sweeter by the fact I was present for an instant classic of a 500, with 37 lead changes, the second most in race history, ten different leaders and the fourth closest finish ever.
There was a superb early lead battle between Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon, Will Power and Simon Pagenaud, whilst drama for Juan Pablo Montoya saw him drop to the back of the field and produce a stunning comeback through the field.
As Kanaan and hometown boy Ed Carpenter were amongst those to visit the infamous IMS walls, Montoya ended up besting Dixon and Power in a thrilling fifteen lap shoot-out to the flag for his second 500 win – a hugely popular result amongst the incredibly vocal crowd in attendance.