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MSV’s motorsport heroes of 2014

Monday, December 29 2014

In a season filled with great racing and bold performances at MSV circuits and in MSV-run championships, we've picked ten motorsport heroes from a fantastic 2014.

The drivers and riders on this list, which appears in alphabetical order, have helped make this year a vintage one for MSV. Many have won races and championships, wowing the crowds along the way. Everyone featured here will have much to celebrate over the holiday season.

Marco Attard and Alexander Sims

The British GT Championship is one of the hardest-fought of all national championships, with driving crews often unable to win more than two races in a season. The Ecurie Ecosse pairing took just two wins, but by mid-season they were the runaway leaders in the title standings. Sims was unable to race at Snetterton, and this meant that he missed out on the overall championship, which Attard claimed, despite retiring from the final round.

The pairing will be back next year and Sims, a BMW star driver, is determined to claim the title that got away. Johnny Cocker also deserves an honourable mention for stepping in to take Sims' place at the Norfolk circuit.

Shakey Byrne

Shakey was almost unstoppable in the early part of the 2013 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, but lost out to Alex Lowes in the Showdown.

There was a chance that history would repeat itself in 2014 when, after another period of domination by the Kent rider, Ryuichi Kiyonari provided a late challenge to his supremacy, but the matter was settled at the Brands Hatch finale. Kiyo may have sidelined himself with injury, but Shakey won the 'War for Four' titles in style, taking the record for the most BSB championships.

Billy McConnell

McConnell beat British Supersport pacesetter Alister Seeley by just four points, securing a return to the MCE British Superbike Championship, which the Aussie last contested in 2008.

McConnell's closest title rival wasn't Seeley, but Smiths Triumph team-mate Graeme Gowland, and when the latter crashed out of the Brands Hatch finale at Druids, only Seeley could stop McConnell. Seeley did all he could and took the final win of the season in the closely-contested class, but eighth place was enough for McConnell to take the title for the first time after seven seasons of trying.

Jolyon Palmer

Jolyon became the first Englishman to win the GP2 title since Lewis Hamilton, and what better reminder of this than winning it in the year that Lewis took his second Formula 1 crown?

Jolyon's record-breaking performance earned him two prestigious awards from the Guild of Motoring Writers and the BRDC, as well as a hugely impressive maiden F1 test with Force India at Abu Dhabi, where he lapped just four-thousands of a second shy of vice-champion Nico Rosberg.

George Russell

The second BRDC Formula 4 Champion was fast from his very first race since graduating from karting, carrying this form throughout the season. He also proved to be quick in GP3 and F3 testing after he had taken the title.

George's profile entered the stratosphere when he was announced as the winner of the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, earning him £100,000 for his second season in cars and a coveted McLaren F1 test drive. He's proof that BRDC F4 is the first step on the ladder to motor racing stardom and is definitely one to watch for the future.

Toby Sowery

Whilst George Russell was impressing in BRDC F4, another promising karting graduate was tasting success in the F3 Cup Championship, in a year in which the series became Britain's leading championship for Formula 3 class cars.

Sowery won eight races, dominating all but three of the meetings that he entered, to wrap up the title at Silverstone. He then won races in the MRF series in India against a host of promising international drivers and could yet prove to be a star of the future.

Mat Summerfield

Mat took his third consecutive British Truck Racing Division One title at the championship's Brands Hatch finale after perhaps the toughest challenge to his supremacy yet. The MAN domination of the top class was challenged by the ex-works Renault of Chris Levett, a combination that would frequently prove too quick for Summerfield.

The reigning champion wasn't ready to relinquish his crown, however, and a combination of racecraft and consistency kept him in touch. This alllowed him to convert a handy advantage to secure the title in the penultimate race. Could a fourth title be on the cards in 2015?

Colin Turkington

With eight wins, Colin was the class of a very strong British Touring Car Championship field in 2014. His dominant performance ensured that he put the title beyond doubt with two rounds to spare, despite a late attack from MG's Jason Plato.

There are several changes to next year's BTCC field, with Sam Tordoff switching to WSR and Jason Plato unlikely to stay with MG. Colin's place in the championship-winning team is uncertain at present, but it's hoped that he will be back to defend his title next year.

Ander Vilarino

The Spanish double NASCAR Whelen Euro Series champion took his fourth career win at Brands Hatch last June, and his third American SpeedFest race victory. He beat Anthony Kumpen to the line by just half a second after fending off his rival's attacks to take a lights-to-flag win.

The previous day Ander had finished in third place behind Eddie Cheever III but was lining up an attack on the lead when the race was neutralised by the safety car, which remained on track until the chequered flag.  The season ended with Vilarino just missing out on his third consecutive championship, losing to Kumpen by just a single point. 

Alex Zanardi

Alex's place amongst sporting legends is assured, but this hasn't stopped him from continuing an already stellar career. Not content with championship titles in motorsport and handcycling, the Italian is combining racing a BMW GT in the Blancpain GT Series and defending handcycling titles on his way to the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

Alex showed that he's still got it at Brands Hatch, taking fifth place in the main Blancpain Sprint race just one week after claiming yet another handcycling medal. A special mention should also go to Hari Proczyk/Jeroen Bleekemolen, who won both races that day.

You can watch many more heroes on track in 2015 with MSV's range of Season Passes, available from £89. Click here for more information or to purchase a pass.

 

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Images courtesy of British GT, Az Edwards, Nigel Shearing, jakobebrey.com, Jonathan Hatfield, Nicola Todd, MJP Media and Blzeebub