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SPORTSCAR365: Top 10 Cars of 2017

Sportscar365 counts down the top 10 cars from an action-packed sports car racing season…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

While it’s often the drivers and teams that get credit for race wins and championships, nothing would be possible without the cars beneath them.

After counting down the best races and drivers of the sports car racing season, Sportscar365 takes a look at the top 10 prototypes and GT cars of the year:

10. Mercedes-AMG GT3 – The Mercedes-AMG GT3 has become a staple of GT3 series worldwide following a successful debut in 2016, and this year it has gone on to win the Blancpain GT Series Asia with GruppeM while coming runner-up in the Pirelli World Challenge SprintX standings with CRP Racing. The car is a firm fan favorite and arguably one of the best-looking cars in its class.

9. Aston Martin Vantage GTE – Aston Martin’s veteran GTE car went out with a bang by winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a last-gasp battle between Jonny Adam and Corvette Racing’s Jordan Taylor, beating a field of considerably newer cars. The Vantage GTE also claimed the WEC GTE-Am title with the longtime trio of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda. It made its debut as a GT2 car in 2008 before the GTE version came out in 2012, but will be replaced by a new car next season.

8. Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR – The Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR was one of the first ‘new-gen’ GT4 cars and, along with the McLaren 570S GT4, has been part of the inspiration for many new manufacturers entering the class, including BMW, Audi, Mercedes-AMG, Ford and Chevrolet. The Porsche won the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge GS title as well as championships in the GT4 European Series Southern Cup and Blancpain GT Series Asia.

7. Lamborghini Huracan GT3 – With an all-factory lineup of Mirko Bortolotti, Christian Engelhart and Andrea Caldarelli for the first time this season, the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 made its mark on the Blancpain GT Series, enough to win both the overall and Endurance Cup titles. It wasn’t just with Grasser Racing Team that the Huracan GT3 had success, however, as the car racked up eight titles in worldwide competition this year.

6. Porsche 919 Hybrid – 2017 was another season in which the Porsche 919 Hybrid had tremendous success, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans outright and the WEC titles for the third consecutive times. The 919 Hybrid retires after four seasons of competition at the pinnacle of sports car racing and leaves a huge legacy as one of the few cars capable of challenging the dominance of Audi at Le Mans with what became its own era of triumphs.

5. Ferrari 488 GTE – After a successful debut in 2016, the Ferrari 488 GTE had an even better season this year, with AF Corse’s James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi winning the WEC GTE title its highlight success. JMW Motorsport also campaigned a 488 GTE with which it claimed the GTE-Am class win at Le Mans and European Le Mans Series GTE title. The car enjoyed success on the other side of the pond as well, with Risi Competizione finishing on the podium in five of the seven IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races it entered.

4. Oreca 07 Gibson – The standout of the 2017-spec LMP2 cars, the Oreca 07 Gibson dominated the WEC this year as usually the only car in the class while also winning at Le Mans at the hands of Jackie Chan DC Racing by Jota Sport. The car was an incredible 11 seconds a lap quicker than its predecessor during qualifying at Le Mans and it led outright at one point during the race with the LMP1 field all suffering from problems. Furthermore, it won the ELMS title and at least one car finished in the top two in every race despite a fairly even mix of Orecas, Ligier JS P217 Gibsons and Dallara P217 Gibsons in the class.

3. Toyota TS050 Hybrid – While Porsche stands out on paper in the results of the 2017 WEC season by winning both the title and Le Mans, this year was also one of great improvement for Toyota Gazoo Racing. The German-Japanese outfit had its best season of LMP1 competition since 2014 and won five of nine races. The TS050 Hybrid itself had a marked development this year, going three seconds a lap quicker at Le Mans and with Kamui Kobayashi shattering the qualifying record lap time. It heads into the 2018/19 ‘Super Season’ as the last LMP1 Hybrid standing after the withdrawal of both Audi and Porsche. 

2. Audi R8 LMS – Despite facing competition from a myriad newer GT3 cars, the Audi R8 LMS had more success than any of its competition in 2017, winning the 24 Hours of Spa and Nürburgring 24 outright and the GT Daytona class at the Motul Petit Le Mans. Its victories at Spa and the California 8 Hours propelled it to secure the Intercontinental GT Challenge trophy while also taking victory in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup. The continuing success of the Audi R8 LMS Cup in Asia also shows the car’s international accomplishments.

1. Cadillac DPi-V.R – By far the best Prototype in the WeatherTech Championship this season, the Cadillac DPi-V.R had a debut season few other cars could match. It started the season with a seven-race win streak including the enduros at Daytona, Sebring and Watkins Glen, despite numerous Balance of Performance adjustments handed down. It took until the Road America race in August for it to finally be beaten by the Nissan Onroak DPi. The Cadillac is based on the Dallara P217 global-spec LMP2 car which, while not being as well-represented as the Oreca or Ligier, did score a victory in the ELMS.

The latest news, photos and video features from the trusted Sportscar365 web staff.

24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Brian

    December 29, 2017 at 9:19 am

    An honourable mention: Callaway C7 GT3-R: For a car that’s privately made to be so competitive against some of the top GT3 cars and then to get 7 podiums, 3 wins, and also win two titles this year is truly a remarkable achievement.

  2. Anonymous

    December 29, 2017 at 9:34 am

    Special Mention should go to the Mazda RT24-P DPi. Ok it didn’t win anything but it was the only DPi to actually appreciate the spirit of the rules about being styled like a production car, it should also win the best looking Prototype built in the last decade! just my own opinion.

    • Tyler Sanders

      December 29, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      Yeah no.

    • Andy Flinn

      December 30, 2017 at 10:21 am

      Anonymous, the Cadillac DPi was styled by Cadillac engineers to look like a Caddy. I think they did a great job.

      Just MY opinion.

      (The Mazda looks great, too.)

  3. dagyschoiceisajoke

    December 29, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    Yeah, I guess it’s easy to be the best car in the P category when you sandbag at the tests and the sanctioning body, NASCAR, goes wink, wink, nudge, nudge….we got this…and does nothing and makes sure the Nissan can’t run enough boost to outrun the Caddies.

    And GM fans whine that the Caddy is restricted.

    What a joke.

    And to rate what is basically a P2 car over either the Porsche or Toyota is downright stupid.

    • Tracklimits

      December 29, 2017 at 1:02 pm

      Not a complete joke but couldn´t agree more on the caddy… like you said, it was clear from the very first moment that GM would get the pot this year…
      won´t say its a bad car, but sure not one for the DPi category

      • Andy Flinn

        December 30, 2017 at 11:23 am

        Tracklimits, hindsight makes you look like a genius.

        Fact is, Gibson was guaranteed to win every 2017 WEC LMP2 race before they even dropped the first green flag. And the lack of any real competition (save a few ELMS Ligiers and Dallaras) meant that from the first race on, it was clear that Oreca would dominate and win EVERY WEC LMP2 race and the WEC LMP2 championship.

        There was competition in IMSA DPi, which is more than I can day for WEC LMP2.

        • Tracklimits

          December 30, 2017 at 3:41 pm

          Surely you are right. But that was obvious in 2016 when ACO revealed the four Chassis-Constructors eligibly to built LMP2s. And of course Gibson won all WEC races because all LMP2 have Gibson engines. For a spec engine thats ok 😉 even though its sad that we lost all that diversity we had before.

          But the Dallara DPi was equipped with an engine that was seemingly not running to the same rulebock than the others, or at least nobody seem to care that the engine can produce more reliable hp than the others under the “same” BoP (therefore they gained an unfair advantage). In my eyes it was ok for Daytona, cause hey thats part of racing today (Sandbagging etc) but after that event the BoP failed miserably or was desired to fail (like BoP always does)

          I don not say Dallara built a bad car or GM an not superior engine. But to say its the best car of 2017 is in my eyes not correct. If you say so, you only measure by pure performance and then you cant put the Caddy infront of an LMP1.

          • Andy Flinn

            December 30, 2017 at 11:36 pm

            Tracklimits, the WEC is supposed to feature cutting-edge technology.

            So, unless you’re a WEC apologist, it’s not OK that all of the WEC LMP2s this year had spec (Gibson) engines or that all of the races were won by the same manufacturer (Oreca).

    • Andy Flinn

      December 30, 2017 at 10:46 am

      Maybe if Porsche hadn’t axed their costly LMP1 program (all done buddy) and Toyota actually won Le Mans this year with their latest LMP1 technology (after how many tries?)

      It also sounds like you’re upset that American technology triumphed over the spec-Gibson army, which is all WEC LMP2 currently has to offer with its boring Oreca specfest.

      Typical WEC entitlement.

      That’s why I’m not a fan.

      CoTA didn’t work out as expected in North America. Fans didn’t flock to the new Mecca for sports car racing. So get ready to play second fiddle to IMSA at Sebring in 2019 – if that April Fools of a midnight race ever happens.

      • Steven

        December 30, 2017 at 3:26 pm

        you do understand there are different regulations for LMP2 and IMSA’s P category?

        It’s like beating a dead horse when it comes to you. LMP2 is a cost capped category while DPi is an open budget “factory” support of a modified LMP2 chassis that is only allowed in IMSA. As those cars do not meet the regulations in either category of LMP1 or LMP2, they are not allowed to race anywhere else under any ACO run event.

        As for CotA, No one wants to go to an overpriced Tilkedrome out in the middle of nowhere with limited viewing areas. You really can’t claim that Sebring is IMSA’s fans when its not. They go for the 12 hours of Sebring. Just like how Petit Le Mans is always packed and when Grand-Am showed up before the merger, they were lucky to grab a few thousand fans to watch the race. People go to see specific races. Case in point, the Indy 500 and Daytona 500. other than that, IndyCar and Nascar tracks look like ghost towns.

        • Andy Flinn

          December 30, 2017 at 11:23 pm

          Steven, the WEC wanted the CoTA Tilkedrome because they desperately wanted European sports car racing to be just as popular as F1. Outside Le Mans, it’s not. It’s funny how you mentioned Indy but didn’t mention Le Mans. Fact is, Le Mans survived for years without being part of any sports car World Endurance Championship.

          • Steven

            December 31, 2017 at 9:24 am

            Le Mans should be its own event. I’ve never liked the fact that it is included in a championship. You have 4 separate racing series (IMSA, ELMS, ALMS, WEC) all racing in one event. It should be perceived as a “Best of the best” mentality.

  4. Zone

    December 29, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    That design has been around since 2010. Never liked it then from Europe and can’t stand it today. I go to watch the GTLM series race and real sports cars. They could eleminate the prototypes for all I care. Cadillac….. really I’m glad they left the PWC and gave Corvettes a chance.

    • Tyler Sanders

      December 29, 2017 at 1:19 pm

      Prototypes are sportscars

  5. Alfaxa

    December 29, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Unfortunately Sportscar365 doesn’t cover SuperGT anymore. Otherwise the Lexus LC GT500 would have definately been in the top 2.

    (and you could mention that the Mercedes-AMG GT3 won the GT300 class)

  6. Steven

    December 29, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    The Dallara-Cadillac is #1?!!! Yeah, Ok…The Audi R8 should be #1 as the GT3 field is maybe the hardest category to win in and they dominated this year.

    • alric8

      December 30, 2017 at 8:52 am

      ‘They dominated’

      Shame about the overall Blancpain GT Series, the Endurance Cup, IMSA GTD, the Bathurst 12 Hours, Pirelli World challenge and ADAC GT Masters then. And most of their success was down to WRT’s outrageous pitstops anyway.

  7. No noise, no excitement

    December 29, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    Shout out to the Porsche 911 RSR for putting the noise back into motorsport.

    • Matt

      December 29, 2017 at 2:57 pm

      Good call

    • Steven

      December 29, 2017 at 6:11 pm

      Easily best sounding car at the track. took a video of the Porsche going around the carousel at Road America when it was the only car on the track and you could still hear it all the way down at Canada Corner.

    • Mike S

      December 30, 2017 at 1:56 am

      Yes in an era of turbo silencing. I agree that RSR sounds awesome coming down the ‘screw at Laguna Seca.

  8. gtgianlu

    December 29, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    The AMG GT Gt3 is by far the best Gt3,in every series entered is always the heaviest car and above all overrestricted but it’s been able to get some wins. A Macao it was 100Kg (yes,one hundred) heavier than the R8

  9. JoeDirt

    December 29, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    Corvette #3 of Magnusson and Garcia.
    Completed every lap of every race.
    #1 for sure.

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