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Season Review

SPORTSCAR365: Manufacturer of the Year

Sportscar365’s staff select the top-performing marque from 2019…

Photo: Porsche

Manufacturer of the Year – Porsche

Porsche filed some breathtaking success in 2018, the year of its 70th anniversary, but there was to be no hint of a lift from the German marque as it went on to collect yet more silverware in year 71.

Its crowning glories were manufacturers’ titles in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (pictured above) and the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli.

The first of that trifecta was arguably the most straightforward since Porsche did most of the hard work in the 2018 leg of the WEC’s long ‘Super Season’.

Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre’s remarkable run of five consecutive GTE-Pro podiums came to an end at Sebring, where their teammates Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz won.

It then became a case of dotting the Is and crossing the Ts to gather enough points at Spa-Francorchamps to secure the title ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans season finale.

The IMSA and IGTC championship runs, on the other hand, played out entirely over the course of the calendar year.

Porsche’s WeatherTech Championship record was astonishing: the two 911 RSR crews won over half of the races between them while at least one took a podium in all but the final two rounds.

Laurens Vanthoor and Earl Bamber won the drivers’ championship with three GT Le Mans class victories that were part of a wider five-race Porsche winning streak from Sebring in March to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in July.

In the IGTC – SRO’s global GT3 competition – Porsche netted its first title and bucked Audi’s streak of three consecutive championships in the process.

Porsche threw everything at the series this year with all-star works lineups often called in to propel the marque’s customer teams to glory in the big races.

The main achievement was GPX Racing’s victory in a grimly wet Total 24 Hours of Spa, marked by career-defining first and last stints from WEC champion Estre.

Porsche then clinched the manufacturers’ title when Nick Tandy, Mathieu Jaminet and drivers’ champion Dennis Olsen triumphed for Frikadelli Racing in the Kyalami 9 Hour.

Furthermore to those three big scores, Porsche also won the WEC GTE-Am title with Team Project 1, the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup through Zach Robichon and the Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia teams’ title courtesy of Absolute Racing.

Add to that the introduction of new cars for GTE, GT3 and GT2 and Porsche can look back on 2019 as another key chapter in its glittering motorsport history.

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

Runner-up – Lamborghini

Porsche’s achievements made it a worthy two-time Sportscar365 Manufacturer of the Year, but there was another racing marque that deserved more than a brief honorable mention at the foot of the honor roll.

Lamborghini already had a few major cups in its trophy cabinet when 2019 started but it added an unprecedented amount of silverware as the months rolled on.

While Porsche reigned in the manufacturer-focused GT competitions, Lamborghini was a force of its own on the customer racing front and enjoyed widespread global success. 

It will be best remembered for winning all the available overall drivers’ and teams’ titles in Blancpain GT (Endurance Cup, World Challenge Europe and outright) via FFF Racing, which was also Sportscar365’s Team of the Year.

In North America, Lamborghini’s season started with a memorable Daytona 24 and Sebring 12 double from Grasser Racing Team, while it ended with the marque sitting atop the IMSA GT Daytona manufacturers’ table for the second year in a row.

Other notable triumphs included a gold medal in the FIA Motorsport Games (through team Japan, which was run by FFF), winning the International GT Open title with former Lexus squad Emil Frey Racing and claiming the GT3 teams’ title in British GT through Barwell Motorsport.

There was also health to report in the grids of the tri-continental Lamborghini Super Trofeo one-make series which concluded with a bumper World Final event at Jerez.

All of these achievements were statistical evidence of a hard-working global support network driven by the Squadra Corsa factory racing division in Sant’Agata Bolognese.

There’s no doubt that Lamborghini will now want to view 2019 as the benchmark for future seasons as it stakes its claim to being the best GT manufacturer around.

Honorable mentions: Acura (Won the IMSA DPi/GTD title double), Ferrari (Top GTE marque in 24H Le Mans, Motul Petit Le Mans and ELMS), Audi (Won Dubai 24H, Nürburgring 24, ADAC GT Masters and DTM)

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