Wednesday, December 7, 2016

2016 Sports Car Predictions: Revisited

There are a handful of major races remaining on the calendar year and two notable races remaining are the Sepang 12 Hours and Gulf 12 Hours. Despite these two sports car races remaining, we can look back on predictions made for sports cars this season.

1. FIA WEC: All Three LMP1 Manufactures Score Over 200 Points
Correct! Porsche won the World Endurance Manufactures' Championship with 324 points while Audi finished second with 266 points in its final season in LMP1 and Toyota rounded out the top three on 229 points. It is not surprising Porsche won the title considering it won six of nine races, although what is surprising is Porsche didn't put two cars on the podium once all season. Audi's final season was arguably its toughest season but despite all there troubles and losing a victory after being excluded after Silverstone, Audi still finished ahead of Toyota, which had a much better season than 2015.

2. Ferrari Locks Up A GTE Title Before Bahrain
Wrong but it couldn't have been much closer! The #83 AF Corse Ferrari held a 25-point entering the season finale at Bahrain and all the team had to do was complete 70% of the race to be classified to win the GTE-Am championship.

3. IMSA: A Race Victory Falls Into Ligier's Lap
Correct! But it didn't really fall into Ligier's lap; they earned those victories, all four of them. Extreme Speed Motorsports was the best car at the 24 Hours of Daytona and Pipo Derani dazzled everyone at Sebring with a pair of daring passes to get the #2 Ligier to the lead. Then Michael Shank Racing won at Laguna Seca and closed the season with a dominating victory at Petit Le Mans with Extreme Speed Motorsports making it a Ligier 1-2 finish.

4. BMW Wins At Least Seven Race Between the Two GT Classes
Wrong! I got this one massively wrong. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing BMWs were shutout in the win column in 2016 and the Turner Motorsport BMWs only won twice in GTD. I thought the RLLR BMWs would win three or four races and have one car contending for the title and I thought Turner would do the same considering how strong their driver line-ups were.

5. Pirelli World Challenge: Patrick Long Finishes in the Top Two of the Championship
Correct! To be honest, when Patrick Long announced he was going to be competing full-time in Pirelli World Challenge for EFFORT Racing Porsche, I thought he was going to win the championship but knowing that Johnny O'Connell had made it habit of winning the PWC title, I left a little wiggle room and I am glad I did because Long finished second in the championship but had he settled for second in the finale at Laguna Seca and not tried to pass O'Connell for the lead on the final lap he would have won the title. He didn't, he went off the road and Álvaro Parente went on by to win the title for K-PAX Racing McLaren. But considering EFFORT Racing pulled out of PWC midseason and Long had to move to Wright Racing, second in the championship is very impressive considering his season nearly ended before the month of May.

6. Four Different Manufactures Are Represented in the Top Five of GTS
Correct! And it was actually five different manufactures represented in the top five of GTS. KTM's Brett Sandberg finished ahead of Ford's Nate Stacy, Chevrolet's Lawson Aschenbach, Ginetta's Parker Chase and SIN's Scott Heckert. Let me also mention that in sixth was Lotus driver Scott Dollahite and in seventh was Maserati's Mark Klenin.

7. Blancpain GT: Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Wins a Specific Championship
Correct! Enzo Ide won the Blancpain Sprint Series title in the #33 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi after winning four races and seven podium finishes from ten races.

8. The Average Grid Size for Blancpain Sprint Series Will Be Above 20 Entries
Correct! The average Blancpain Sprint Series grid was 36 cars in 2016.

9. European Le Mans Series: Jota Sport Scores Fewer Podiums Than in 2015
Wrong! Technically, Jota Sport didn't compete in the European Le Mans Series in 2016 but technically it did as it competed under the G-Drive Racing banner after the two teams formed a partnership. The #38 Gibson-Nissan finished on the podium four times in six races, won the bookends of the calendar and the team took the championship after it had eluded the team the last few seasons. The trio of Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and Giedo van der Garde were stellar and deserved the title.

10. The Average LMP3 Grid Exceeds Eight Entries
Correct! The LMP3 grid ballooned to an average of 19.1667 entries per race. The smallest LMP3 grid was 17 at the Estoril finale. In fact, there were 17 entries that ran all six rounds. LMP3 has become a great success although I wonder how the grid will fair next season with LMP3 cars being allowed to compete full-time in the Michelin Le Mans Cup and the 24H Proto Series. There could be a slight dip but I still expect more than a dozen LMP3 in ELMS next year.

11. Asian Le Mans Series: Ferrari Will Not Be Shut Out From Another GT Podium
Wrong! While the #27 Nexus Infinity Ferrari won at Buriram, Ferrari was shutout of the podium at the final race of the 2015-16 season at Sepang where the #5 Absolute Racing Audi took the victory ahead of the #91 Team AAI BMW and the #3 Clearwater Racing McLaren with the #27 Ferrari finishing fourth.

12. There Will be At Least One Race Where the LMP3 Winner Finishes Ahead of the GT Winner
Correct! In January at Buriram, the #1 DC Racing Ligier-Nissan won in LMP3 and finished ahead of the GT winning #27 Nexus Infinity Ferrari and in the 2015-16 season finale at Sepang, the #1 DC Racing Ligier-Nissan won again and finished ahead of the GT winning #5 Absolute Racing Audi.

Another set of predictions and another eight for 12 showing. Don't forget to check out the other revisited predictions for IndyCar, NASCAR and Formula One.