THE 50 MOMENTS THAT DEFINED 2016
Across the course of 2016 we’ve been treated to big results, some shocking events, waved goodbye to some familiar faces, and welcomed new ones through the revolving door of motorsport.
Some of the headline arrivals across the last 12 months: the new-look British Rally Championship, Subaru to the British Touring Car Championship, a teenager called Max who’s taken F1 by storm, and some chap named Loeb who caused quite a stir by joining world rallycross.
Then there’s been the lows: farewells to Audi Sport from Le Mans, Volkswagen from the World Rally Championship, and two of Formula 1’s most recognisable and likeable characters in Felipe Massa and Jenson Button. And just when you thought it was all over and settled, there was Nico Rosberg’s bombshell...
Across the following 10 pages we run down the 50 moments that most defined 2016.
If we missed any feel free to let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Words by: Matt James, Rob Ladbrook, David Evans, Jack Benyon, Stephen Lickorish, Jack Cozens, Hal Ridge and Paul Lawrence.
WHEN: ONGOING WHERE: SILVERSTONE
First it was to be Jaguar Land Rover. Then perhaps Ginetta boss Lawrence Tomlinson. Now, Motorsport Vision or a fourth party? The sale of Silverstone saga has been a story throughout 2016. It has rumbled on for months, since rumours of JLR’S interest first surfaced, but it has remained largely in the If you’re British, 2016 was a fantastic year for world rallying, with Kris Meeke taking wins in Portugal and Finland in dominant fashion.
But there was even more reason to be excited as three Brits fought for the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy, which runs on the WRC support bill.
The championship is an arrive and drive formula for Ford Fiesta R2TS, and three of the hottest properties in world rallying were at its forefront. Bury’s Gus Greensmith arrived as 2015 DDFT rookie champion, Welshman Osian Pryce was a frontrunner in JWRC the year before and Jon Armstrong was the surprise package, although those back home were aware of his pace.
The three were fantastic. Armstrong won in Poland and Spain while Pryce won in Portugal and Germany and took the title. Greensmith was right with the duo, if not quicker, but suffered myriad mechanical issues.
The trio will be ones to watch in the future. JB
The Northern Irish have strong form in the National Hot Rod World Final and the country added another winner in 2016 when Crumlin’s Adam Maxwell landed the big prize after 75 all-action laps around Foxhall Heath in Ipswich in July.
The domestic points champion set the fastest lap during qualifying to start from pole position alongside his Northern Irish points rival Derek Martin. The pair came to blows early on with Maxwell able to continue unchecked.
He was still having to look to his rearview mirrors as Shane Murphy was putting him under real pressure. However, going in to the last third of the event, they got too close.
“It was partly my fault, because I had run wide on the corner before and that gave him the run on me coming out of the turn,” said Maxwell. “I was up against the wall, he was inside me and there was a backmarker on the inside of the circuit. He had to move out to avoid the backmarker and came across into me. It wasn’t a deliberate thing, he was just trying to get out of the way.”
Despite a deflating tyre, Maxwell held on until the end of the race to land a famous victory. MJ
Formula 1 has come up with some hare-brained ideas over the years in attempts to improve ‘the show’.
Think Olympic-style medals rather than points to decide the title or plans to introduce artificial rain. But one of these schemes that actually came to fruition this year was almost as ridiculous. A new qualifying format was run for the first two races. It still featured three segments, but it was done on an elimination basis with cars continually on track setting lap times to ensure they weren’t the next one knocked out. That was the theory, but in reality drivers would set one lap at the start of each session and for the fast drivers that would be enough to see them through, leaving an empty track. “Pretty rubbish,” was how Mercedes boss Toto Wolff described it. It was an unmitigated disaster and the original format was reintroduced for round three after much outcry. SL
WHEN: APRIL 30 WHERE:
As you will go on to read, the British Rally Championship came back with a bang in 2016.
But on the third round, the series came crashing down with a bang in Carlisle. The stages were brilliant, the service park was adequate. But drama was brewing.
The stages were too fast. Yes, that’s a thing. Gravel rallies at national rally are subject to a notional time. Drivers must not exceed an average of 70mph on stages or they receive a notional time.
Whether the roads hadn’t been considered carefully enough or more chicanes hadn’t been installed to slow the crews down, the result was devastating. We Not many championships have their roots in Beaconsfield Services on the M25, but the Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship was massively successful in its first season across 2015-2016.
The premise was simple. Make a championship of single-venue rallies on circuits around the country. Offer prizes and let the competitors roll in. Sounds simple. Turns out it was a huge niche in the rally market, with relatively low costs of preparing and looking after the cars.
James Sharrock proved consistency is key by steering his Ford Escort Mk2 to the title and a prize bounty of 12 Michelin tyres and a free entry to the opening round in 2016.
The second season is already well underway and providing events even bigger than the first.
The three-digit entry lists sold out within 20 minutes for the first three events of the year.
Not only has the championship proved successful but it’s also helped to boost entries for events that weren’t full. Everyone is a winner. JB
After two BRISCA F1 titles and a career that stretches back more than three decades, Rob Speak decided to hang up his short oval crash helmet at the end of 2016.
But, rather than just stepping away entirely, the legend has decided to remain in the sport by taking over the operation of Skegness Stadium. The 44-year-old took control in September, just weeks before his last
F1 race at Coventry. Would it be a bit much to compare England’s competitive return to Britain’s round of the World Rally Championship with Neil Armstrong walking on the moon? Maybe. A little bit.
But just as Armstrong’s small step was a giant leap for mankind, Andrew Kellitt’s decision to slot a dash around Cholmondeley Castle on the road back to Deeside was an enormous move for our round of the WRC. Prior to the Cheshire test, it had been 17 years since a stage had been set in the ‘green and pleasant land’.
Welsh funding means the event will remain anchored in the principality for the next two years, but after that, who knows? Manchester and Liverpool are close enough for the ceremonies, the Lakes just about within reach for some competition. One thing is sure, the exceptional popularity of Cholmondeley goes some way to demonstrate the appetite that remains for world championship level rallying in England. DE
His legacy on the circuits is huge: he has two BRISCA F1 World Final titles and has won more than 1000 BRISCA F2 events. He had also lifted eight BRISCA F2 World Final crowns.
“I knew I wanted to step down from driving, but I have always been involved in stock cars and I wanted to remain part of the sport,” said Manchester-based Speak. “Taking over Skegness seemed like the ideal way to do it.
“I have lots of plans to upgrade the venue, but I need to sit down with planners and the local council to find out what is feasible. I have a bit to learn, but I have always been around the sport and I will be able to use my experience.” MJ