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MSV’s ten great moments of 2016

Friday, December 23 2016

With so much happening in the MSV world in 2016, there were many fantastic moments worth celebrating, including standout events at our circuits, in our many race championships and series and MSV-affiliated drivers.

It's been hard to pick the best, but here's a top ten of our favourites from the year, in chronological order.

Jolyon Palmer races in F1

After impressing the Lotus F1 team in 2015, Jolyon Palmer was rewarded with a full-time drive with the squad, which was bought by Renault at the end of the season. With the French manufacturer arriving too late to fully-develop the new car, it was clear that this would be a tough year for Jolyon. Nevertheless, an storming debut drive in Australia where he held back Toro Rosso chargers Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen for many laps almost netted him a point, and as the year progressed, the 25-year-old became Renault's pace-setter ahead of his more experienced team-mate, Kevin Magnussen. Jolyon was rewarded with a contract extension as well as his first points-scoring finish and now looks forward to a strong 2017.

British F3 returns

When the old British Formula 3 Championship ended in 2014, a gap between the nursery single-seater categories and international racing opened up. This was filled by a new, lower-cost championship that evolved from the MSV-run BRDC F4, using the new Tatuus car trialled in the previous year's Winter Series and an uprated Cosworth engine. New teams came on board and with a close title battle eventually won by Brazilian Matheus Leist, the new BRDC British F3 Championship has comfortably filled the void left by F3's previous incarnation.

F4 Master joins experience line-up and stars in ITV's Drive series

With a new car for the renamed BRDC British F3 Championship, the old, Ralph Firman-designed F4 car was recommissioned as Brands Hatch's new driving experience car, making it the most authentic single-seater experience in the UK. As well as thrilling the public and critics alike, it also starred in ITV's Drive celebrity contest. After completing a series of driving challenges, the finalists, including Angus Deyton and Johnny Vegas, took part in a race at Bedford Autodrome in the F4 car, eventually won by rapper Professor Green.

Celebrity race appearances

The BTCC kicked off at Brands Hatch in April with Emmerdale's Kelvin Fletcher on the grid and when the championship appeared at Oulton Park, the Oldham-based actor was a huge hit during the pit walk. After filming what turned out to be the BBC's last series of The Great British Bake Off, Paul Hollywood joined the British GT field and raced an Aston Martin at Snetterton in August, just a few weeks since trying out our GT86 rally car at Brands Hatch in preparation for Top Gear's Star in a Rallycross Car. By the end of the month, Olympic cycling hero Jason Kenny was racing a Radical, emblazoned with six Gold Medals (and one Silver) at Brands Hatch.

Playboy racers James Hunt and Barry Sheene celebrated

To mark 40 years since James Hunt and Barry Sheene won their respective World Championships, Brands Hatch celebrated motor racing's playboy stars this season. At the Masters Historic Festival, James's son Freddie Hunt was guest of honour and joined a line-up of his father's cars, even driving the Chevrolet Camaro that James raced to victory in the Tour of Britain, in a special parade. During the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship Big Brands Bash in August, there was a commemorative display of Barry Sheene's bikes and a tribute livery from the Bennetts Suzuki team, before a parade run in the 'wrong' direction to mark the great man's appearance in the Hutchinson 100, just weeks after he won the 500cc World Championship.

Montreal corner renamed in tribute to Justin Wilson

Snetterton's second corner, the Montreal hairpin, was renamed in honour of late Indycar star Justin Wilson in July. Wilson corner was unveiled at a ceremony attended by Jonathan Palmer, who managed Justin's career, as well as Justin's parents, Keith and Lynne. It was renamed in time for the Norfolk venue's annual BTCC round, appropriate as Justin first came to prominence in the BTCC-supporting Formula Vauxhall categories in the 1990s.

New Festival Italia builds on American SpeedFest successes

This year's American SpeedFest IV was the biggest and best yet, now covering two days, with NASCAR Whelen Euro Series racing, Disney's Lightning McQueen and a Mariachi band amongst the many highlights. The same successful formula was also applied to a brand new event celebrating all things Italian. Festival Italia included demonstrations from Italian F1 cars, Ferrari racing and a huge Italian car parade, plus an authentic Italian market amongst the many coveted motors. If you missed it, it's back in 2017 as well as American SpeedFest V!

F1 returns to the Oulton Park Gold Cup

A race for the Historic Grand Prix Cars Association featured F1 machinery from the 1950s and 60s at this year's Historic Gold Cup event, recalling the early years of the famous race when greats such as Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham and Jim Clark came to Cheshire. To celebrate this, the famous trophy was recreated and awarded to the winner of the race, Lotus 18/21 driver Peter Horsman. Further cheer was provided by a demonstration of the incredible-sounding BRM H16-engined Lotus 43, as driven by Jim Clark in period.

Shedden secures his place amongst the BTCC legends

As late as midsummer, Gordon Shedden's title defence was in tatters, but he began a fight back to start the finale at Brands Hatch with only Sam Tordoff heading him in the title race. A masterclass in Touring Car driving from Shedden that final weekend ensured that he entered the last race just two points adrift of the title lead. Despite starting behind his rival, his ruthlessly efficient overtaking manoeuvres, including the crucial pass on Tordoff, won him a third championship. This puts him equal with team-mate Matt Neal and just one behind Andy Rouse's all-time BTCC record as well as being the first driver to successfully defend a title since Fabrizio Giovanardi.

Shakey wins his fifth MCE BSB title

With 2015 MCE BSB Champion Josh Brookes out of the way, nothing was going to stop Shane 'Shakey' Byrne was claiming his fifth crown. Until superstar Leon Haslam returned from the world stage and began to win races on his Kawasaki. It didn't help that it took a few rounds for Shakey to get the hang of his new Ducati but once he did, only the Pocket Rocket could stop him. A grand slam weekend at Oulton Park put Haslam ahead going into the Showdown, but Shakey regained his form and sealed the deal at his home circuit Brands Hatch in October. 

You can enjoy many more great moments with MSV's range of 2017 Season Passes, available from £85. Click here for more information or to purchase a pass.







 Festival Italia

 Gold Cup



Images courtesy of James Moy, BRDC British F3, MSV, Impact Images, Andrew Kitson, Az Edwards, M Photographic and Simon Hildrew