Following deliberation over one of our most comprehensive and diverse shortlists ever, our independent panel of experts has chosen the winners of the Professional MotorSport World Expo Awards 2016. Click on the links below for more information on each of the winners!
New garages, improved safety and re-profiled corners comprise the changes to the iconic Circuit de la Sarthe. Four additional garage spaces were built ahead of the 2016 season, allowing for an expanded grid size of 60 cars, a figure not seen at the event since the early 1950s.
The expansion was originally intended to be completed in two stages, over two years, but the increased number of entries for the 2016 event led the ACO to accelerate its plans. Other changes to the circuit include revisions to the Indianapolis and Porsche Curves series of corners to improve safety and viewing opportunities, as well as the widespread implementation of SAFER barriers. One judge, Ford Performance’s Gerard Quinn, had numerous reasons for awarding the circuit full points, stating, “Safety improvements keep the iconic Le Mans race alive, generating greater audience appeal at the race circuit, and building stronger motorsport advocacy at a time when fans are increasingly turning to digital and social platforms.”
Although the Circuit de la Sarthe seemingly ran away with the category, the three-way fight between the recently completed US$400m expansion of Daytona International Speedway, the recently resurfaced Watkins Glen and Andy Priaulx’s iZone driver training facility continued until the last vote came in, with the two circuits rounding out the top three.
Magneti Marelli’s cockpit-facing UHD high-speed camera was developed in conjunction with the FIA’s Global Institute for Motor Sport Safety and Sustainability, and is the latest tool to improve driver safety in Formula 1. Operating at 400fps, the camera allows a crash sequence to be viewed in super-slow-motion, which helps give a clearer understanding of the precise sequence of events, and also makes the interpretation of data from other sensors (accelerometers, gyros, steer angle) much simpler and more intuitive.
Magneti Marelli’s SDR datalogger continuously records data from the car, in conjunction with data from two high-g tri-axial accelerometers, a gyroscope and two additional accelerometers fitted in the driver’s earpieces, as well as a wide range of other engine and chassis data sent from the standard ECU. The camera was put to immediate use in the opening race of the 2016 season, recording in unprecedented detail the 46g lateral deceleration of Fernando Alonso’s McLaren MP4-31.
As Dallara’s technical director, Andrea Toso, explains, the UHD has bigger implications for motorsport: “The Magneti Marelli camera is an innovation with great potential in terms of safety and fan engagement. It has the potential to change the perception of motor racing as a whole.”
A clear winner in the category, the UHD camera saw off the Osram and Porsche jointly developed HID light cluster for the 919 hybrid LMP1 car; Team Simpson’s HANS Pro FHR was a close third, drawing praise from drivers and engineers alike.
Ford Performance’s portfolio of motorsport programmes has always been comprehensive, but 2016 saw it add participation in the GT LM category of the IMSA WeatherTech Championship and LM GTE Pro category of the FIA WEC to its roster. Victory at Le Mans with the 2016 Ford GT repeated the famous 1-2-3 of 50 years earlier, and its activities in NASCAR, multiple domestic and international road race championships, drag racing, rallycross, drifting and rally raid events have seen Ford take a number of further victories and titles in addition to its ongoing support of grassroots-level competition.
The depth and diversity of the portfolio, in combination with a tendency to perform well across a number of disciplines, were reasons continually put forward by the judges when justifying their votes. PMW editor John O’Brien explained, “The sheer number of motorsport programmes that Ford is involved with never fails to impress by itself. But the way in which Ford has embraced the sub-brand, and how it is now using it to further its road cars – to great success – has to be considered as the template for other OEMs to follow; it’s marketing done right.”
Despite Ford Performance taking victory in the category, the lead changed multiple times as judges’ votes came in. Last year’s winner, Team Porsche, narrowly missed out on retaining the title, and Formula E’s dominant Renault e.Dams squad was not far behind, in third.
Instrumental in the return of Ford’s GT to both endurance racing and Le Mans, George Howard-Chappell worked on the GTE project for two years and oversaw Multimatic’s development of the racing version of Ford’s GT. His involvement with the project also saw him assemble a Europe-based team for the Chip Ganassi squad’s debut season in the FIA WEC. Ford’s victory at the 2016 Le Mans race added to Howard-Chappell’s previous victories with both Ferrari and Aston Martin.
Judges were especially forthcoming in their praise for Howard-Chappell, with Dallara’s Andrea Toso stating that Ford Performance’s showing at the 2016 Le Mans ensured the team had “resurrected the myth of the Ford GT”. Javier Arús, editor-in-chief of Evo Spain, simply added, “To create a winner at Le Mans is a good enough reason in itself.”
Behind Howard-Chappell, Mercedes-HPP’s Andy Cowell won praise for his team’s continual development of the all-conquering PU106B Formula 1 power unit, while Hyundai Motorsport’s Michel Nandan and Honda’s Yusuke Hasegawa drew praise for the development of the i20WRC and the resurgent form of the McLaren-Honda partnership respectively.
Mahle’s Turbulent Jet Ignition has been a vital component in the hybridised, turbocharged era of Formula 1. Allowing for a homogeneous ultra-lean combustion cycle in modern competition engines, the system replaces the standard spark plug in SI engines with a jet ignition chamber assembly that improves overall efficiency and performance.
Inside the jet igniter assembly is a small ignition chamber with a direct injector that provides a small amount of auxiliary fuel (<5% of the total system fuel) and a spark plug to ignite that charge. The ignition chamber is connected to the main chamber by a number of orifices that allow jets of partially combusted products to ignite the main charge. The smaller orifice size causes turbulence in the hot gas jets, which then penetrate deeper into the main combustion chamber and cause an evenly distributed ignition effect. The system’s combustion is much quicker than with standard spark ignition, enabling the engine to operate at optimum spark timing as the knock limit is considerably extended.
As juror Gerard Quinn points out, “The evolving race technology could ultimately be used in road cars, creating a greater technology relevance for OEMs.” Fellow judge Andrew Noakes agrees, adding “Mahle’s TJI has contributed to the increase in thermal efficiency seen in Formula 1 over the past few years. The system has great potential for further applications inside and outside of motorsport.”
The Powertrain Innovation of the Year category always proves to be a diverse, yet tightly fought one, and 2016 was no different. Mahle was closely followed by the Renault e.Dams Season 2 powertrain that claimed the 2015/6 FIA Formula E title, with Bosch Motorsport’s highly flexible MS7.4 ECU being praised by our engineer and driver judges alike for its unparalleled flexibility and programmability among ECUs.
The Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters championship has long been the pinnacle of European touring car series. A strong social media presence and the backing of Germany’s three major OEMs have seen the DTM undergo a resurgence in fan numbers in recent years: 28,000 Twitter followers and over 500,000 Facebook followers are gifted exclusive video content on a regular basis. The fans have reciprocated, with the DTM drawing an average of 950,000 spectators to each race, and a further 2.23 million TV viewers per race weekend.
As juror Phil Morse highlights, “DTM has drawn the credibility of Germany’s biggest OEMs and is becoming a credible fast-track for drivers to other series such as the FIA World Endurance Championship and Formula 1.”And it would appear that the PMW judges are fans of ‘tin-top’ racing in general, with Australia’s premier sedan series, the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, finishing a close second to the DTM, while the eclectic VLN series based at Germany’s Nürburgring tied with the SRO Group’s Blancpain GT series for third.
Much like last year, the longlist for the Race Car of the Year category was a bumper edition, with more than 30 eligible vehicles put forward, before being whittled down to 13 for our panel of judges to deliberate over. Eventually, it was Toyota that emerged victorious with its heavily revised TS050 built by Toyota Motorsport – “practically every part” of the outgoing chassis was redesigned to accommodate an all-new powertrain concept. A 2.4-liter, twin-turbo, direct-injection V6 petrol engine is combined with front and rear motor-generators and an all-new lithium-ion battery. The switch in storage method has moved the car up to the 8MJ hybrid class. At Le Mans 2016, the team came agonizingly close to becoming the first Japanese manufacturer to claim outright victory since Mazda in 1991, with a solitary component failure robbing them of a guaranteed win in sight of the checkered flag.
As juror Andrea Toso highlights, “The TS050 exemplifies why we go racing, both professionals and fans. Enduring, losing, regrouping, making it better, and above all, brand recognition. I think more people will remember Toyota losing than Porsche winning the 2016 Le Mans. Most engineers in motorsport would now love to work there, for their ethics, their respect of their competitors, and the market.”It was another Le Mans highlight that took runner-up spot in the category, with the Ford GT GTLM being praised for its symbolic class win at Le Mans – some 50 years after Ford’s infamous battle with Ferrari. Skoda’s mightily impressive Fabia R5 rounded out the top three, with strong performances from Hyundai’s i20 WRC and the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3 seeing them both just miss out on a top-three finish.
The Kick Energy Junior 1000 championship has long helped youngsters take their first steps towards the WRC. Year after year, the category also proves to be one of the closest fought in the Professional MotorSport World Expo Awards. With the lead changing between three contenders throughout the voting process, 2016 proved to be no different, but it was Tommi Meadows who emerged on top once the votes had been collated.
The 16-year-old is a popular face in the J1000 paddock, and is affectionately referred to as ‘Mr Cheerful’ among the series organizers. Meadows has put in a number of strong performances throughout the 2016 season to see him placed as the highest-running Micra driver. As juror and PMW editor John O’Brien commented, “Meadows’ maturity in and out of the car is indicative of someone with a bright and successful career ahead of them.”
A new category for 2016, the Outstanding Contribution to Motorsport award has been created to honour those who go above and beyond what is required of them in this industry – often at great personal expense. After a closely fought contest in the award’s inaugural year, the winner was Ginetta’s charismatic CEO, Lawrence Tomlinson.
As juror Phil Morse explains, “Lifting a company from the brink of administration to the level where it can campaign GT cars around the world is a technical and business success to be sure, but there are overtones of real passion in Tomlinson’s moves – from his commitment to developing young drivers, to his promotion of the history of British motor racing.”
With fellow shortlisted nominees – SRO Group’s Stéphane Ratel, and Dallara CEO Gian Paolo Dallara – equally deserving of the award, it is unsurprising to find that the lead in this category changed the most, with equal praise for the trio’s respective contributions to motorsport.