From Mount Panorama to Road Atlanta and everywhere in between, Sportscar365 was there to cover another exciting year of international sports car racing, which provided plenty of drama, controversy and memorable moments.
In the first of Sportscar365’s “Top 10” series for the year, we take a look at the top 10 races of 2015:
10. 24 Hours of Spa – An intense four-way battle for the overall win finally went in favor of the Marc VDS squad, which gave BMW its first major 24-hour race victory for the Z4 GT3 in its final year of top-level competition. Two months later, it’d be revealed that it was the Belgian squad’s last major win as well, with VDS ceasing all car racing operations at the end of 2015.
9. PWC Monterey – All eyes were on the GT championship battle in the Pirelli World Challenge title-deciding race, which saw points leader Olivier Beretta carve his way from the rear of the field to ultimately making contact with rival Johnny O’Connell in the Corkscrew. Beretta, however, lost the title when his Ferrari came to a halt on track in the closing moments after serving a penalty. O’Connell won his fourth straight title and MOMO NGT Motorsport, meanwhile, ran away with the race in an impressive 1-2 finish.
8. Six Hours of The Glen – A wet and wild IMSA race at Watkins Glen resulted in victory for VisitFlorida.com Racing, although after an incident-filled final hour, which saw a race-ending crash for the then-leading Ricky Taylor-driven Corvette DP and a late stop for leader Joey Hand, just prior the race-ending full-course caution. Team Falken Tire claimed its final IMSA class victory in GTLM, benefitting from the downpour in one of the most unpredictable races of the season.
7. BSS Zandvoort Main Race – The title-deciding Blancpain Sprint Series race, which featured a massive start-line pileup, went down to the final corner of the final lap, with Maxi Buhk holding off Robin Frijns — who entered the weekend as the championship leader — for the win and Sprint Series title for himself and Bentley Team HTP co-driver Vincent Abril. It came a day after Belgian Audi Club Team WRT’s Frijns spun out of the championship lead in the Qualifying Race.
6. Twelve Hours of Sebring – While Action Express claimed a dominant overall victory, the nail-biting action came in the GT ranks, with Corvette Racing taking GTLM honors after drama in the final hour for the pair of Porsches. However, it was the battle in GTD that took center stage, with a four-way battle going the way of Team Seattle/AJR after the engine in Jeroen Bleekemolen’s Dodge Viper expired with five minutes to go and Mario Farnbacher holding on, despite having a dramatic off-course excursion while battling for the class lead.
5. Six Hours of Bahrain – An epic duel between Marc Lieb and Benoit Treluyer for the lead, and eventual overall victory, was overshadowed by a monumental comeback for the championship-leading No. 17 Porsche, which lost five laps early with a engine actuator issue. The problems returned in the final hour, which saw a heroic drive from Mark Webber, who completed the final pit stop on electric power only and had the engine cutting out multiple times in the closing laps, en route to a fifth place overall finish, good enough for the drivers’ title.
4. Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps – It was another Audi vs. Porsche battle in the second round of the WEC season, although this time going in favor of the four rings, thanks in part to pit strategy. Benoit Treluyer and Marc Lieb swapped the lead multiple times in the final two hours, even making contact at least once. However, Treluyer’s final stop got him out ahead of the No. 18 Porsche to give Audi its second, and final, win of the season, in another epic LMP1 battle.
3. Bathurst 12 Hour – For the second consecutive year, Bathurst delivered a GT3 thriller, following a four-way fight for the win in the closing laps. A daring move by Katsumasa Chiyo on Bentley’s Matt Bell just a few corners after the final restart saw Nissan claim a monumental victory on The Mountain, its first in more than 20 years. Laurens Vanthoor managed to finish second in the Phoenix Racing Audi, with Bell demoted to fourth after controversial contact from Stefan Muecke on the final lap.
2. Six Hours of Silverstone – A three-way LMP1 manufacturer battle went the way of Audi in the thrilling WEC season-opener, with Marcel Fassler holding off Neel Jani by less than five seconds at the line to take victory, despite having served a late-race penalty and gear selection problems at the start. It came after a strong challenge from Porsche, which led early, with the No. 1 Toyota finishing third overall and only 15 seconds behind Fassler’s winning Audi.
1. Petit Le Mans – Porsche claimed an unprecedented overall victory with its 911 RSR in the rain-shortened event, which saw the GT Le Mans class cars take the fight to the Prototypes in one of the wettest races in recent memory. Nick Tandy stormed around Eric Curran in the Action Express Corvette DP for the overall lead in the eighth hour, just prior to the final full-course caution, when IMSA ultimately called the race due to worsening conditions and lack of visibility.