Wednesday, December 6, 2017

2018 Sports Car Predictions: Revisited

We have made it to December and we have another set of predictions to revisit. This time we look back at sports car predictions and a set of three predictions for the FIA World Endurance Championship, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, European Le Mans Series and the Pirelli World Challenge.

1. WEC: Porsche Runs Three Cars at Le Mans
Wrong! We only got two 919 Hybrids for what was Porsche's final Le Mans appearance in LMP1. There was no Fernando Alonso or Juan Pablo Montoya. The good news for Porsche is it picked up its 19th Le Mans victory despite only running two cars. Although, about 16 hours into the race Porsche were likely wishing that it had entered a third car because it nearly went horribly wrong.

2. Sébastien Buemi Gets Back on the Top Step of the Podium
Correct! And he was on the top step of the podium more than any other LMP1 driver, besides his co-drivers Kazuki Nakajima and Anthony Davidson. The #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid won five of nine races, however, a rough day at Le Mans and a poor result at Nürburgring kept the team from beating the #2 Porsche for the world championship.

3. Aston Martin Finally Wins the GTE-Am Title
Correct! Finally! Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda had lost the title the last two years in heartbreaking fashion. Both times the team did not finish the 24 Hours of Le Mans and that put them behind the eight ball. This year the trio finished fourth at Le Mans and picked up crucial points. The #98 Aston Martin was consistent all season with four victories and its worst finish being fifth at Fuji. This trio has won 12 of 26 races over the last three seasons and it has 18 podium finishes in that span.

4. IMSA: Mazda Wins at Least Two Races
Wrong! The start of the DPi-era was not kind to Mazda. The team pulled out of the championship midseason and Team Joest has taken over the program from SpeedSource. Hopefully, 2018 will be a better season for the RT24-P program.

5. Acura, Lexus and Mercedes-AMG All Win at Least Once in GTD
Partially correct! It didn't take long for Mercedes-AMG to win in GTD as the manufacture won three of the first four races. After Mercedes-AMG's run of success, Acura followed by winning back-to-back races at Belle Isle and Watkins Glen. While Mercedes-AMG and Acura each found their way to the top step of the podium, Lexus did not come close and the manufacture's best finish was fifth.

6. Penske Enters a Car Late in the Season and Juan Pablo Montoya and Hélio Castroneves Are the Drivers
Correct! And not only were Montoya and Castroneves involved but Simon Pagenaud even made a cameo. Team Penske entered the #6 Oreca 07 for Petit Le Mans. Not only did the team win pole position but also the team finished third on its return to sports car competition. Next year, Montoya and Dane Cameron will be in the #6 Acura ARX-05 and Castroneves will share the #7 Acura ARX-05 with Ricky Taylor. I think Team Penske might win a race or two in 2018.

7. ELMS: Racing Team Nederland Does Not Win a Race With Rubens Barrichello and Jan Lammers as Drivers
Correct! Racing Team Nederland did not win a race at all in 2017. The team selected the Dallara P217, the worst of the three chassis in LMP2 for ELMS and the team's best finish was seventh at Red Bull Ring.

8. At Least One Class has Four Different Entries Win a Race
Correct! All three classes had four different winners and LMP3 and GTE each had five different winners. In LMP2, the winners were the #32 United Autosports Ligier, the #22 G-Drive Racing Oreca,  the #27 SMP Racing Dallara and the #40 Graff Oreca. The LMP3 winners were the #2 United Autosports Liger, the #19 M.Racing - YMR Norma, the #11 Eurointernational Ligier, #9 AT Racing Ligier and #3 United Autosports Ligier. The GTE winners were #90 TF Sport Aston Martin, #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari, #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari, #51 Spirit of Race Ferrari and the #77 Proton Competition Porsche.

9. An AF Corse-operated Ferrari Finishes in the Top Three of the GTE Championship
Wrong! The #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari missed a third place finish in GTE by three points after the car retired at the finale at Algarve and the #77 Proton Competition Porsche jumped the #55 Ferrari with its victory in the finale.

10. Pirelli World Challenge: The Sprint Champion is Different from the Sprint X Champions
Correct! The Sprint championship went to Wright Motorsports Porsche Patrick Long and the SprintX championship went to Cadillac Racing's Michael Cooper and Jordan Taylor. Long took the overall championship over Cooper by 27 points. Unfortunately, it appears the Cooper-Taylor SprintX championship will be the final title for Cadillac as the team has withdrawn from PWC competition.

11. Ryan Dalziel is the Patrick Long of 2017
I am going to say correct. Though Long nearly won the title in 2016 in his return to the series, Dalziel finished fifth in the overall championship, 91 points behind Long. However, Dalziel and co-driver Daniel Morad won twice in SprintX and finished second in that championship by three points behind Cooper and Taylor. It didn't match the level of Long but fifth overall in the championship is very respectable and I did say he would be a lock for the top five in the championship.

12. American Manufactures Win at Least Eight GTS Races
Correct! And majority of the victories came from an unexpected place. Camaro driver and GTS champion Lawson Aschenbach only won two races but Panoz Avezzano GT driver Ian James won six races. Let's not forget to mention that Andrew Aquilante swept the St. Petersburg season opener in a Ford Mustang Boss 302R so American manufactures won ten of 18 GTS races in 2017.

I am going to say 8.667 out of 12 correct. That is respectable. It is much better than what was a disastrous round of Formula One predictions. Don't forget to check out revisiting NASCAR predictions and IndyCar predictions.