It’s part three of Team TCF’s picks of the year, and this time they are discussing the best teams of 2015!
Dan Mason – Porsche
Beating Audi is no mean feat at Le Mans, but it took Porsche only two attempts to reclaim the illustrious crown back on their return thanks to their vastly-improved 919 Hybrid machine.
A one-two in the great 24-hour spectacular during the summer was a major coup for the marquee over their fellow German rivals at Audi, but it was an equally special moment for the winning trio of Earl Bamber, Nick Tandy and Nico Hülkenberg. The latter traded Force India F1 machinery and brought the #19 Porsche to the flag for a famous win, both Hulkenberg and Bamber claiming the triumph on their first attempts at Le Mans while Britain tasted success thanks to long-time Porsche stalwart, Tandy.
It didn’t stop at the 24 hours however, as Porsche had further celebrations to arrange later in the year.This time it was another F1 star that was jumping for joy as former multiple race winner Mark Webber showed his Aussie Grit to clinch the World Endurance Championship for Porsche, alongside Germany’s Timo Bernhard and New Zealand youngster, Brendon Hartley.
Dan Lloyd – Marc VDS Goes out on a high
One thing that motorsport fans will miss in 2015 is the presence of Marc VDS’ popular GT squadron. The Belgian outfit has become a staple of the GT3 scene in recent years, and despite its decision not to return next season, this year proved to be one of its most successful.
Perhaps the highlight was that fantastic victory at the 24 Hours of Spa, the first in the team’s history. After the loss of their sister car in the 19th hour, Lucas Luhr, Markus Palttala and Nicky Catsburg pushed on to defeat the pair of chasing Audis, recording what has become the first, and only 24 hour race win for Marc van der Straten’s outfit.
A parallel ELMS campaign heralded the last ever victory, as Andy Priaulx, Jesse Krohn and Henry Hassid took GTE honours at the 4 Hours of Estoril to fittingly wrap up the Marc VDS GT story.
Joe Hudson – Beechdean AMR
Taking the honours in one category of GT racing is achievement enough, to take all the titles in a championship, that’s one hell of a thing – but for the British GT Championship they didn’t know what hit them when Beechdean AMR stormed in to 2015.
The GT4 title was sown up with a race to spare thanks to the efforts of Jamie Chadwick and Ross Gunn taking the team’s all-conquering Aston Martin Vantage GT4 to numerous wins.
In GT3 it was a lot closer but again the title went to Beechdean with Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam after solid drives all year showed just how unstoppable the blue and white train is when it gets going.
Josh Close – Milwaukee Yamaha
There were a number of potential winners in this category but as the British Superbike reporter there can only be one winner and that it Milwaukee Yamaha.
The team entered the 2015 season with the brand new Yamaha R1 machine which would require plenty of testing and development with the duo of Josh Brookes and Broc Parkes looking to learn as much about the bike as possible.
Brookes would start the season in impressive form – with nine podiums in the first 10 races – but the turning point for the team came in the first race of the weekend on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit.
Brookes dominated to take victory as the bike continued to get quicker and quicker. Brookes and the R1 would only be beaten twice in the remaining 14 races as Brookes took the title for the very first time.
The Milwaukee Yamaha team took a brand new machine at the start of the year, learnt how to work with it and turned it into an unbeatable machine.
Louis Suddaby – Kawasaki Racing Team
2015 was a World Superbike season dominated by Jonathan Rea but behind every great rider is a great team and the Ulsterman certainly had that. Smarting from the loss of the 2014 title to Aprilia, Kawasaki were sensational this season and adapted better than anyone to the standard ECU introduced at the start of the campaign.
With Tom Sykes adding four wins to the fourteen of Rea, Kawasaki topped the podium in two thirds of this season’s races with a magnificent seven 1-2 finishes, five of which came in a row midway through the year. If that’s not impressive enough, there was only one race in the entire season that didn’t see a Kawasaki rider on the rostrum and that came on the day the Rider’s Championship was wrapped up.
Testing has already got underway for 2016 and armed with a brand new ZX-10R, Kawasaki already look red-hot favourites for next season. Perhaps next year, we will get the Rea vs Sykes head-to-head we were teased at times this year.
Simon Paice – Honda Yuasa Racing
In a season that saw most the front-running BTCC teams change their driver line-ups, continuity proved to be key once again for Honda Yuasa Racing as their established duo of Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal provided the goods with a pair of top three championship finishes.
While the men behind the wheel were the same, the team successfully introduced a new car for the 2015 campaign with the Civic Type R, and as has become the norm from the team it was amongst the pace-setters from the off with four wins in the first seven races.
In an ever-changing and constantly developing championship, the team’s continued success is deserving of high praise. Shedden delivered their third drivers’ title in five years, whilst they walked away with the Manufacturers honours for the fifth time in six years.
Lee Bonham – Team BMR
This is really quite a tricky one. Yet for the second year in a row I have to say it is Team BMR. How Warren Scott managed to raise the team to a whole new level, creating a BTCC super-team that at the season finale had three former champions racing together, is a credit to the man’s vision and ambition.
First car to win with seventy-five kilograms of ballast. Multiple titles. Not really sure how he will be able to top 2015. Possibly by getting all three champions for a whole season? Or maybe a new manufacturer? Or best of all, winning the overall drivers championship.
Chloe Hewitt & Katy McConnachie – ART Grand Prix
Chloe: It is hard to look past ART Grand Prix, as one of the teams of the year. ART have always been a dominate force in whatever series they participate in with a wealth of history and an endless of current and former F1 drivers, but never have they been more dominate than they were in GP2 and GP3 in 2015, claiming the drivers’ and teams’ championships in both series’.
Despite the fact Esteban Ocon’s title fight with Luca Ghiotto went down to the wire, with the Frenchman coming out on top by eight points, the same cannot be said for the teams’ title with ART finishing ahead of Trident by 195 points.
It was a lot more plain sailing in GP2 with Stoffel Vandoorne outscoring his nearest rival Alexander Rossi by a staggering 160 and setting the new record of seven victories in a single season, and ART taking the crown by 168.5 points over Racing Engineering.
Despite this sheer dominance displayed by ART, both categories maintained their close wheel-to-wheel racing, and also had multiple teams and drivers winning that left fans entertained and set an example to other series’.
Katy: In both GP2 and GP3, ART Grand Prix have completely dominated the season with Stoffel Vandoorne taking the GP2 Championship and Esteban Ocon the GP3 Championship under the ART Grand Prix name. As well as their drivers claiming the Drivers’ Championships, again in both GP2 and GP3, they have claimed the Teams Championships. This is what makes them my team of 2015.
The French team have clearly focused this season in order to be strong in more than one series and the incredible drive from everyone in ART Grand Prix is what racing should be all about.
Paul Hensby – Prema Powerteam
Once again the dominant force in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship, with three of its drivers standing on top of the podium during the season. Felix Rosenqvist was the star driver, securing thirteen victories on his way to the championship, while Jake Dennis and Lance Stroll were also victorious as the team secured their third consecutive Team’s title.
To cap off the season, Rosenqvist then secured his second consecutive Macau Grand Prix triumph with the team.
As well as their Formula 3 exploits, Prema also took the top two places in the Italian Formula 4 championship with Ralf Aron and Guanyu Zhou, confirming the team’s high status within the junior categories.
2016 will see the team expand further, taking over the Lazarus entry in the GP2 Series, and with their pedigree, expectations of success may be high.
Connor Jackson – E.Dams
I picked Dams as they continue to be the dominant force for a range of series. However; their work in one stands out amongst all others.
For Formula E’s first season, the teams were essentially a small part of the system, after homogenisation limited the work they could do on the car. Despite this, E.Dams were the only team that saw both their drivers fight for the title, as they expertly managing the situation. Mercedes take note!
While many will remember that Nelson Piquet Jr won the title, what many may forget is that he only did it by a single point. To add, Sebastien Buemi was the only driver to have collected three race wins that year, helping the team win the title by 61 points.
To add, they’ve carried their form over into this season, with Buemi having collected both pole positions so far. The unpredictable nature of Formula E has meant that neither driver has achieved their desired results this year, but on paper they remain the quickest outfit.
Gemma Bray – McLaren-Honda
Even though McLaren-Honda haven’t had the best of years with engine reliability issues this season. Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso have not failed to keep me entertained, not allowing car trouble to put them down! Making me smile especially when Alonso enjoyed a moment in the sun during qualifying at the Brazilian Grand Prix, followed by all the memes.
Matthew McMahon – LOTOS Rally Team
The team behind Kajetan Katjetanowicz’s rise to European Rally Championship glory certainly contributed to his success. A thoroughly professional performance saw the Pole only failed to finish once and that was through driver error.
Dominik Wilde – Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross
Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross went into their second year of Red Bull GRC competition with the highest of expectations after coming achingly close to the title in 2014 with Scott Speed and a pair of ageing Volkswagen Polos.
Things started off well, a second place at the opening round, a win in round two and an X Games gold medal but things soon went a bit off course. Five races without a win wasn’t exactly written in the script, although a brace of second places for Speed in Detroit gave hope. Hope that was soon taken away with a disappointing pair of results at the team’s de facto home round in Washington DC. Seventh for Speed and fifth for Foust left many thinking if VARX could make a solid title challenge in 2015, then things changed massively.
The team went on a four race winning streak, dominating the LA and Barbados double headers with Speed and Foust taking two wins apiece. After that impressive run VARX went to the Las Vegas finale as the only two drivers capable of winning the championship.
There Speed drove to a conservative third place to ensure he won his and the team’s first championship.
Phil Kinch – Albatec Racing.
Andy Scotts Dumfries based outfit competed with a two car team in the 2014 FIA World Rallycross Championship with Andy Scott being joined by several drivers. In 2015, the team announced that it would compete in four different championships.
Yup, thats right. Four. The beauty of Supercar rules means that your car is eligible to run in many of the European Rallycross Championships and Albatec proved the point during 2015 in style with both of their Peugeot 208’s. Andy Scott competed in the British Rallycross Championship, taking two wins and finishing runner up whilst being joined by Mark Flaherty, James Grint and Kristian Sohlberg during the season.
Jerome Grosset-Janin and James Grint competed in the FIA European Rallycross Championship with Grosset-Janin finishing runner up after winning the opening race in Belgium. French Formula One reporter Julien Febreau competed in several rounds of the French Rallycross Championship, being joined by Sohlberg for one round.
Finally, the team made several appearances with both of their Peugeots in the 2015 FIA World Rallycross Championship with an impressive roster of drivers including Andy Scott, David Binks, Jerome Grosset-Janin, ex WRC driver Kristian Sohlberg and four time FIA WTCC Champion Yvan Muller.
To be competitive in four different championships, as well as taking victories in three of them takes hard work, support, dedication and guts. Thats why I choose Albatec Racing.
Matt Bristow – Team Peugeot Hansen
Easy one not only have they sealed the team WRX crown they have always worked and been presented as a team. Team Peugeot Hansen is the obvious choice. Timmy Hansen only narrowly missed out on claiming the FIA world crown at the final round in Argentina to Peter Solberg.
Frenchman Davy Jeanney finished in a totally respectable fifth place as well. Proving that consistency is the secret to team domination in WRX.