Sportscar365 is recognizing some of the top competitors and moments from 2021. Next up is the manufacturer of the year award, as selected by website staff.
Manufacturer of the Year – Ferrari
Whether it was in GTE or GT3, Ferrari scooped some of the biggest prizes of the year with its venerable 488 model that has been competing in various Evo guises since 2016.
The Italian marque won both GTE classes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans as part of simultaneous FIA World Endurance Championship-winning campaigns with AF Corse.
Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Come Ledogar held off Corvette Racing’s No. 4 crew to win the GTE-Pro race at Le Mans while the No. 83 trio of Nicklas Nielsen, Alessio Rovera and Francois Perrodo took a commanding victory in GTE-Am.
The Le Mans successes rounded off a perfect August that started when Pier Guidi, Ledogar and Nielsen earned Ferrari’s first TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa triumph in 17 years, breaking a long 11-year streak of wins for the ‘big four’ German manufacturers.
Ferrari heightened its factory involvement in GT3 racing last year when it fielded two Pro entries in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe by AWS Endurance Cup with AF Corse.
That strategy continued into 2021 with Iron Lynx taking the reins of the flagship GT3 program with substantial assistance from key factory personnel.
Ferrari’s commitment has been validated by Pier Guidi winning successive Endurance Cups, with Nielsen and Ledogar sharing top honors with the Italian this year.
Other achievements included Iron Lynx earning future Le Mans entries by sealing the European Le Mans Series GTE and Michelin Le Mans Cup GT3 titles. Ferrari crews won every ELMS race and occupied all three steps on the podium at four out of six rounds.
The year was also a hugely significant one in terms of Ferrari mapping out its future sports car racing strategy.
In February it announced the development of a four-wheel-drive hybrid Le Mans Hypercar, while preliminary details of plans to produce a 488 successor emerged in July.
Those 2023 projects will give the staff at Maranello plenty to do in addition next season’s race programs, where the pressure will be on to defend lots of major wins and titles.
***The pre-eminent constructor of LMP2’s Gibson era, ORECA continued to set the tone in the popular prototype class. There were some challenges to navigate, including performance curbs amid the WEC’s introduction of Hypercar, but racing in LMP2 remained exciting and ORECA remained the trusted supplier of almost every team. Aside from LMP2, the French company sealed the major scoop of approval to build Ferrari’s next GT3 car, as well as starting the development of the Acura LMDh.
***Mercedes-AMG went all-in for its DTM return under the new GT3 regs and came away with the biggest prize of winning both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles. Other highlights included a one-two in the Rolex 24 at Daytona GTD class led by Winward Racing, and the retention of the global Fanatec GT World Challenge powered by AWS manufacturers’ crown.
***Championships were earned by both Toyota factory sports car racing operations in Europe and Japan, marking another successful year for the company. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez delivered Toyota’s fourth consecutive Le Mans win and the first Hypercar-era world title, while Sho Tsuboi and Yuhi Sekiguchi were Super GT champions in the GR Supra’s second season.
***There was plenty to celebrate among Lamborghini customer teams at the end of a busy GT3 season. Barwell Motorsport prevailed in British GT, Vincenzo Sospiri Racing sealed the GT Open title and K-PAX Racing dominated GTWC America in style.