Wednesday, December 13, 2017

2017 Et Cetera Predictions: Revisited

This is it! The final time we look back on 2017 predictions and now it is time to look back at a bunch of series, from two wheels to four and from domestic series to world championships. A few of these were missed by a hair. It may not be pretty considering some of the other sets of predictions made.

1. MotoGP: There Will be at Least Six Different Winners
Wrong! There were only five winners in MotoGP this season and that is surprising. Marc Márquez and Andrea Dovizioso had a great championship battle. Maverick Viñales was the championship contender that fell off the face of the planet. Dani Pedrosa got his contracted victory and then doubled up and got another and Valentino Rossi got another victory. That was it. There were a few chances for a sixth winner that got away from a handful of riders. Johann Zarco had a great chance at victory at Valencia. Jorge Lorenzo let one get away with him after a bobble at Sepang. Danilo Petrucci had victories at Assen and Misano get away from him.

2. Indy Lights: The Top Five From Indy Lights in 2016 Combine to Make Fewer Than 32 Indy Lights Starts in 2017
Wrong! Kyle Kaiser and Santiago Urrutia both returned to Indy Lights in 2017. Both drivers started all 16 races. That combines for 32 races. It appeared unlikely from the start of the season that this prediction would be correct unless one of the two drivers had a mechanical issue keep them from starting a race. Before the season it appeared Urrutia would not be back but I am glad he was able to secure the funding. He is a top-notch driver and after a rough start to the season he rallied to finish second in the championship. Kaiser has IndyCar in his future and Urrutia should be there as well.

3. DTM: Edoardo Mortara Accounts for Less Than 50% of Mercedes-Benz's Victories
Correct! Edoardo Mortara accounted for 0% of Mercedes-Benz's six victories in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters season. The Italian struggled in his first year with Mercedes-Benz one year after he was vice-champion at Audi. Mortara finished 14th in the championship out of 18 drivers.

4. Supercars: Simona de Silvestro Gets at Least Two Top Ten Finishes but Finishes Outside the Top Twenty in the Championship
Partially correct. De Silvestro did not score a top ten finish in her rookie season in Supercars with her best finish being a pair of 13th-place finishes at Phillip Island. She finished 24th in the championship.

I think Supercars are one of the most underrated series in terms of difficulty. It is another animal and plenty of respectable drivers have gone to Supercars and struggled. Alexandre Prémat spent two full seasons in Supercars and his best championship finish was 19th. The Frenchman had one top five finishes and had four top ten finishes. Maro Engel finished 28th in the championship in his one Supercars season and his best race finish was eighth.

De Silvestro got better as the season went along and she might have been robbed of a top ten in the final race. She is with Nissan, the third-best of three manufactures, but I think next year will be better for the Swiss driver. It couldn't get much worse.

5. World Superbike: Alex Lowes Becomes the Next British Winner
Wrong! Alex Lowes did not with a race in World Superbike. He did finish fifth in the championship and he stood on the podium four times. The Yamaha was more competitive in 2017 and maybe it can contend for a few victories in 2018.

6. World Supersport: Niki Tuuli Finishes in the Top Three of the Championship
Wrong! Tuuli finished seventh in the championship but he picked up his first career World Supersport victory at Magny-Cours. The Yamaha was the best bike is Supersport this year but while Lucas Mahias won the championship and Tuuli's Kallio Racing teammate Sheridan Morias finished fourth in the championship, the Finn failed to score points in six of seven races from the third round at Aragón to Portimão. Morias scored points in every race and his victory at Lausitz was the only time the South African stood on the podium and he still finished fourth in the championship. If Tuuli can bring the bike home, he could find himself in the championship discussion next year.

7. Blancpain GT: The Championship Winning Team Does Not Have Black in it Country's Flag
Correct! Austrian GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini won the overall Blancpain GT Series championship with Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart. This is the first time in the four years of the Blancpain GT Series championship the champion's flag did not contain the color black as Belgian Audi Club Team WRT won the first two year's and the German HTP Motorsport won the title in 2016. This was also the first year a non-German manufacture won the Blancpain GT Series championship.

8. Asian Le Mans: Jackie Chan DC Racing Sweep the LMP2 and LMP3 Championships
Wrong! Going back to the 2016-17 Asian Le Mans Series season, Jackie Chan DC Racing won zero championships. The #25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier took the LMP2 championship after the #35 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca retired in the season finale at Sepang. The #25 Tockwith Motorsports Ligier won two of four races in LMP3 and the #1 Jackie Chan DC Racing Ligier finished third in the LMP3 championship.

9. Super Formula: Non-Japanese Drivers Win at Least Five Races
Wrong! And unfortunately the final two races of the season at Suzuka were cancelled because of Typhoon Lan. André Lotterer won at Okayama and Pierre Gasly won at Twin Ring Motegi and Autopolis.

10. Super GT: An All-Japanese Pairing Finishes in the Top Three of the GT500 Championship
Wrong! The top all-Japanese driver line up in GT500 was Yuji Tachikawa and Hiroaki Ishiura, who finished fourth in the championship on 62 points, one point outside the top three.

11. WTCC: There is a First Time Champion in 2017
Correct! Volvo driver Thed Björk won the championship. The Swede won the championship with 283.5 points despite not winning one of the final 13 races and not finishing on the podium in one of the final six races.

Honda driver Tiago Monteiro was in the catbird seat for the championship but his season ended prematurely due to a testing accident. The Portuguese driver had scored 200 points with eight races remaining and despite missing the final four rounds, Monteiro finished eighth in the championship.

12. WRC: Four Different Manufactures Win a Rally in 2017
Correct! Four different manufactures won the first four rallies. Sébastien Ogier won the season opener at Monte-Carlo in a Ford. Toyota picked up its first rally victory in its second rally back with Jari-Matti Latvala winning in Sweden. Kris Meeke won Rally México in a Citroën and Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville won Tour de Corse.

Despite Ogier picking up his fifth consecutive championship, this was a fun WRC season. There were three first-time winners in Ott Tänak, Esapekka Lappi and Elfyn Evans. Each manufacture won at least two rallies. Next year, Tänak heads to Toyota, Ogier will stay in the series and perhaps Sébastien Loeb will return.

Ugh. Let's say 4.5 out of 12. That is not good. Not good at all. A few predictions were just one thing away from being correct. What if Zarco had won at Valencia or Tachikawa and Ishiura finished one position better in one race or if the Suzuka doubleheader not been washed out for Super Formula. Some years it just won't be your year.

Anyway, don't forget to check out the revisited predictions for IndyCar, NASCAR, Formula One and sports cars if you haven't already.