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MSV’s ten great moments of 2017

Saturday, December 23 2017

The world of MSV has been filled with many fantastic moments worth celebrating in 2017, including standout events at our circuits, in our many race championships and series and for MSV-affiliated drivers.

It's been hard to pick the best, but here's a top 10 of our favourites from the year in date order:

MSV acquires Donington Park business

Whilst this list is purely in date order, January's announcement that MSV had reached agreement with Kevin Wheatcroft to take over the Donington Park circuit business and to lease the Donington Park Estate for an initial 21-year term was undoubtedly the highlight of our year and one of 2017's biggest stories in UK motorsport. The deal was approved by the Competition and Markets Authority in August and over the winter a series of improvements, including a new grandstand, toilet blocks and main entrance will transform the East Midlands venue in time for the 2018 season, just the beginning of an exciting new era for both Donington Park and MSV.

Sykes breaks World Superbike Championship record at Donington Park

Yorkshireman Tom Sykes broke the record for most consecutive World Superbike wins at a single circuit by taking the first race of the 2017 British round at Donington Park in May. Sykes had an unbeaten run at the East Midlands venue since 2013, this finally ending when teammate and champion Jonathan Rea claimed victory in the second race of the event. It was a dramatic way for Sykes to claim his record win, however. Starting from pole, he fell back through the field after an early mistake, but fought his way past wild card Leon Haslam and benefited again when Chaz Davies crashed out of the lead, leaving Sykes and Rea to fight it out. Moments after passing Rea for the lead, the champion was out in dramatic style at the Craner Curves, leaving Sykes to claim the milestone win by a massive 16 seconds from Haslam and Alex Lowes.

US racing heroes Bobby Labonte and Bruno Junqueira star at American SpeedFest V

American SpeedFest V continued the Brands Hatch event's rapid growth into one of the highlights of the year with off-track entertainment equally as popular as the racing, which was headlined by the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. This year, the entries were boosted by two superstars of US racing, Brazilian Champ Car and IndyCar racer Bruno Junqueira and 2000 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Champion Bobby Labonte, who stormed from the back to claim a tenth-place finish in one of the races. But it was Israeli star Alon Day who was crowned 'King of Brands Hatch' at the end of the event.

Rock and pop fans flock to Donington Park

Two ends of the popular music spectrum were catered for at Donington Park this year. At June's Download Festival, rock bands System of a Down, Biffy Clyro and Aerosmith headlined the annual event in front of tens of thousands of rock and metal devotees. The following month one of the world's most popular pop groups, Little Mix, were one of the hits of the summer when a crowd of over 15,000 music fans descended on Donington's Tarmac Lake to see the four piece perform some of their biggest hits including Shout Out to my Ex, Wings, Touch and Black Magic.

Billy Monger's extraordinary recovery

Sussex teenager Billy Monger suffered life-changing injuries during a British F4 race at Donington, broadcast live on TV across the country on Easter Sunday. His tenacious recovery became one of the year's biggest stories, thanks to Billy's inspiring attitude. By May he'd returned to the paddock at the Oulton Park BTCC round, taking part in the charity track walk in his honour on board a golf cart with hand controls. Within 12 weeks he was lapping Brands Hatch in a specially-adapted racing car and our interview with Billy made national news. Three months later he completed his first steps in public, walking the pit lane on his new prosthetic legs along with hundreds of fans and well-wishers. Expect to see a lot more from Billy in 2018.

Cadwell Park lap record broken by local BSB rider

At Cadwell Park's annual British Superbike Championship 'Party in the Park' event, Lincoln-based local rider Lee Jackson broke the motorcycle lap record at the undulating Wolds venue. Smiths Racing BMW's Jackson, a regular visitor to the track, was delighted with the achievement. He returned to be presented with a board commemorating his achievement by Circuit Manager Paul Woodford. 

Enaam Ahmed wins British F3 title in dominant style at Snetterton

The 2017 British F3 Championship was dominated by Carlin's Enaam Ahmed to the extent that he won 13 races - over half of the 24 rounds. The next most successful was Fortec's Ben Hingeley on just four. Ahmed won all three races at the Oulton Park opener, and two at Spa-Francorchamps, Brands Hatch and both Snetterton events, the latter securing the title with one meeting still to go. 

Champions celebrated at Oulton Park Gold Cup

August Bank Holiday weekend's Oulton Park Gold Cup celebrated the life of F1 and motorcycling World Champion John Surtees, a four-time winner of the Gold Cup. 'Il grande John' passed away earlier in the year and one of his eponymous team's CanAm title-winning Lola T70s, built by the company founded by also recently-departed Eric Broadley, lapped the track in commemoration. John wasn't the only racing champion recalled at the event; 1966 British Saloon Car Champion John Fitzpatrick presented trophies, and 1985 European Touring Car Champion Gianfranco Brancatelli competed in the Super Touring race in a Ford Sierra RS500 spannered by his former team boss, Rudi Eggenberger.

Young gun Ashley Sutton storms to BTCC title

Following 2016's record eight title contenders, this season's BTCC finale had a mere four (two of whom were eliminated early on), and even after the opening race it looked to be all over. Then Colin Turkington drove the race of his life to win the penultimate round, creating another Brands Hatch thriller. It wasn't to be for the Northern Irishman, whose collision with Mat Jackson during another gutsy performance ended in retirement, but no-one could deny that new champion Ashley Sutton had electrified the BTCC with his fearless performances over the last two seasons. And at the end of a weekend that included a stunning demonstration of Porsche's Le Mans and WEC-winning 919 from Nick Tandy, it was the perfect finale.

Shakey's record-smashing BSB title, Haslam's dignity in defeat

Surely nothing could deny Leon Haslam this time? Despite front-running form in British and World Superbikes, the 34-year-old had yet to lift a major motorcycling title. This time, however, he held a 33-point lead in the standings heading into the finale. The only trouble being his closest rival; five-time champion Shane 'Shakey' Byrne. The clash drew a record crowd to Brands Hatch during an autumn heatwave. Shakey whittled the gap down to 21 points in race one, then just two for the final round, but all Haslam had to do was keep his rival behind. Brake failure forced Haslam to crash at Hawthorns, giving Shakey his sixth title - but Leon was the first man to congratulate his rival in an act of supreme bravery and sportsmanship.

You can enjoy many more great moments with MSV's range of 2018 Season Passes, available from £85. Click here for more information or to purchase a pass.

1 Donington

2 Sykes Tim Keeton

3 Speed Fest

4 Shout Out

5 Billy Monger

 6 Lee Jackson

 7 Ahmed

8 Gold Cup Mick Walker

9 Ash Sutton Az

10 Shakey London Bikers

Additional images courtesy of Tim Keeton, Mick Walker, Az Edwards and London Bikers