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Reflecting on 2018, Looking to 2019

Hello Everybody! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and looking forward to the New Year as much as I am! It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been up to anything!

What a year it has been, both on a personal note and in the global racing scene. As I did last year, I will be ending 2018 on a reflective note and looking ahead to 2019. I will mix up the format a bit from last year’s post, which you can read here: Below are some hot takes on this season (championships ending in calendar year 2018, with the exception of the WEC Super Season).

  1. F1 Season more or less a copy of 2017: Mercedes and Hamilton enjoyed a spirited battle with Ferrari and Vettel in the early part of the year but ultimately took over in the 2nd half of the season to claim another perfect sweep of championships. Hopefully we see more intense battles with Ferrari and Red Bull Honda next year (perhaps even McLaren and Renault). However, I think this is finally the time that Mercedes is showing defects in their armour. Could 2019 finally be the year to end the dominance? We will have to find out next year.
  2. 2020 “Hypercar” Regulations a huge leap for WEC: I know quite a few people on both the yay and nay sides for the new rule changes for the LMP1 class as we know it as today. The cars will likely be slower (which means LMP2 will be slowed probably as well for the next cycle but that remains to be seen). However, the idea is to cut costs and improve competitiveness for the top class which as struggled this year to retain any sort of impact with the fan base. With manufacturers and privateer teams already signing up as of this writing (Glickenhaus and ByKolles right now), it looks like to me that the era of Group C may be reincarnated in the 21st Century.
  3. Temporary Success for DPi/LMP2 in IMSA: After all the BOP issues last year, we finally got the right recipe from IMSA to balance the ACO spec LMP2’s and the IMSA spec DPi subclasses so that both were equally fighting for the overall wins. I really enjoyed watching CORE nearly winning the championship, and I certainly think that they were the team of the year regardless of where they finished. They were always behind the 8 ball by not opting for DPi this year but somehow managed to stave off Goliath until the very end. Koodos to them! It’s just a shame (although I personally think it was the proper way to go) that the subclasses are split for 2019 and it essentially killed off LMP2 in North America.
  4. Honda is back, baby!: You heard me, Honda is finally getting out from the cursed couple of years and are finally coming back to prominence across the globe. They won the driver’s (Scott Dixon) and engine manufacturer’s titles in Indycar, won the SuperGT GT500 driver’s championship (Jenson Button/Naoki Yamamoto), and showed huge leaps in performance with Toro Rosso in F1. They also came very close to winning the driver’s title with Katherine Legge in GTD. Looking forward to what these guys have in store for 2019!

Now here are a couple of interesting side notes from the year. These aren’t major headline stories, but rather news that caught my eye over the course of the year.

  1. ESM and Tequila Patron call it quits: This was a huge blow to the North American motorsport community. Sharp and Brown have been around for a long time and for them to both call it quits for 2019 and beyond is nothing short of tragic. Patron leaving was just a business decision, but the fact Sharp couldn’t come up with funding to keep the Nissan DPi’s going next year was a real bummer. Hopefully CORE can pick up the mantle and do some great things with that car this year.
  2. Hyundai making a huge push in the sport: Hyundai announced TCR programs for this year in PWC and WTCR with the i30 N (the Elantra GT in Canada and USA, although we don’t get the N) which I thought was a huge plus. However word got out this year that they are looking to do eTCR as well as contemplating DPi and LMP1/Hypercar with the hydrogen powerplants in the next couple years. Again, I think this is awesome, but it doesn’t exactly surprise when you realise that the guy who used to head up the M division at BMW is now heading up the N division at Hyundai. Looking forward to another team in the mix of top tier racing!
  3. Aston Martin to DTM 2019: Now I’ll cover this a bit in my predictions from last year, but I’m truly shocked that AM is going to be competing in a touring car series (albeit not in an official capacity), where they are known more for GT racing. Unless they are playing the long game and will also be competing in SuperGT GT500 for the Asian exposure, that makes more sense. Otherwise I don’t see much of a point for them.

Now for my personal highlights of 2018! My second year doing CRKC was very good compared to last year. Unfortunately I don’t have any footage this year because I am not putting a GoPro on my helmet since it is painted now (see below). However, I won a couple of races this year and placed 4th or better in all of my non-dropped races, which is a huge improvement. I missed the semi finals and finals due to illness this year, so I ended up in about the same place in the standings as last year. However, I will definitely be doing it again next year and I hope I do even better!

Kings of Neon got the car out for testing a few more times this year, and even competed in CSCS at Shannonville and Cayuga #2. We are still dialing in the car and are hoping to run the car in Chumpcar next year! Hope all goes well.

Finally, as I mentioned in a previous post this year, I got my helmet painted! I can’t thank TJ from Oktane Visual for the stunning work and I get complements everywhere I go with it. Here are some pictures of it!

Finally on to my predictions for 2018 and 2019! Let’s review my predictions from last year’s post:

  1. Toyota fails to win Le Mans, drops out of WEC [WRONG]: Now, regardless of whether or not Fernando Alonso deciding to race simultaneously in WEC and F1 had anything to do with the result, I was very wrong about this. I had more faith in the ACO to balance the cars better than they did this year, which was basically the deciding factor here. Toyota ran away with the 1-2 finish, with Alonso securing the 2nd jewel in the triple crown. Toyota are even in the meetings with the ACO over the Hypercar regulations to boot.
  2. TCR Explosion [CORRECT]: The class had a strong showing in IMSA and PWC in 2018, as well as having a very successful year in the newly named WTCR series. IMSA had 12 teams compete over the year in the Conti series (8 being full time) while PWC had 19 and 12 respectively. I was even correct in predicting another manufacturer to join the fun. Although I was incorrect as to the OEM, having predicted Ford where Hyundai was the actual one joining. Hyundai dominated PWC and WTCR, claiming team’s and manufacturer’s titles in both while claiming the driver’s title in WTCR in their first year.
  3. DTM Changes [CORRECT]: I said that DTM needed to make some huge changes to survive in 2019. Now while I was correct in that we’d see another manufacturer join for 2019 in Aston Martin, it isn’t a full works team. This to me is a stop gap for the series. Only HWA in a way are switching from Mercedes to Aston Martin (or any other team switching from Mercedes). This leaves the series with 2 Aston Martin, 8 Audi and 6 BMW for a total of 16 cars, down from 18 (6/6/6) this year. It isn’t exactly awe inspiring for the series, but hopefully they can grow the Aston’s into multiple teams for 2020.

Now for my predictions for 2019! Again, I can cheat and say that Toyota will will the WEC championships, but where’s the fun in that!? These will be out of the box predictions that are much harder to foresee. Without further delay, here they are!

  1. IMSA announces they will not allow new Hypercars for 2021: Although the new Hypercars are way cheaper than current LMP1 cars, they are still too expensive for North American manufacturers. At least, certainly more expensive than the current DPi’s. Instead, IMSA will continue to make DPi the headline act for the Weathertech Series.
  2. Ford Out, Lexus In for GTLM for 2020: Ford to announce they are ending the GTLM program in favour of a DPi program (this is highly rumoured to be the case as it is) but Lexus will announce a program for 2020. After having thought of DPi but seeing conflicts arising with the Toyota LMP1/Hypercar program, they decide on upgrading their GT3 cars to GTLM.
  3. Lync & Co. to announce a TCR team in either TC America or Michelin Pilot Series for 2020: After a fairly competitive debut season in WTCR, they announce plans for an American based outfit. The first Chinese manufacturer to race in either series.

With that, there are my predictions for 2019! This has been a really fun year, and I hope that 2019 brings all the more action!

I hope you enjoyed reading my posts and gazing at my photos this year and I thank everybody who has done so! Don’t forget to like/subscribe/comment/share any post you read! Here’s to an even better 2019!

Cheers,

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1 comment on “Reflecting on 2018, Looking to 2019

  1. Pingback: F1 2019: SMB Pre-Season Thoughts – Steve's Motorsport Blog

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