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MSV’s sporting heroes of 2016

Friday, December 30 2016

In a season filled with some highly impressive performances at MSV circuits and in MSV-run championships, we've picked ten of our heroes from a memorable 2016.

The drivers and riders on this list have helped make this year another great one for MSV. Many have won races and championships, wowing the crowds along the way. The list is in no particular order, since everyone featured here will have much to celebrate over the holiday season and we look forward to seeing many of them back in 2017!

Shakey Byrne

He's been the benchmark of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship ever since his return in 2011, and has faced opposition from both rising stars and returning heroes. This year Shakey needed to fine tune his new Ducati, but once he'd got it into winning shape at Brands Hatch in May, he was thrust into a battle with former World Superbike star Leon Haslam. The rivals fought hard throughout the summer and Haslam even stole the advantage going into the Showdown. That didn't stop Shakey from winning his fifth MCE BSB title, however, elevating him way above the sport's other champions.

Gordon Shedden

Gordon Shedden secured his place amongst the Touring Car greats this year, but his third championship didn't look at all likely at the season's halfway point. Perhaps his second title-winning race at the end of 2015, when he had to fight back from near the back of the field, inspired his exemplary late-year run, as he entered the Brands Hatch finale with an unmatched serenity. This translated into a calm points-grabbing finals day, completed with a perfectly-executed pass on title rival Sam Tordoff that earned him back-to-back championships by just two points. Now the challenge is to equal Andy Rouse's tally of four titles.

Colin Turkington

Shedden may have become the current BTCC grid's second triple champion, but it could have been Colin Turkington, an even more unlikely outcome after the opening three events. Colin's new Subaru was completed one day before the opening event at Brands Hatch and was withdrawn at Thruxton, but he came back fighting at Oulton Park to take the marque's first pole position and win. This was followed up with another two wins at Croft and Snetterton and he was suddenly in title contention. A stunning weekend at Brands Hatch put him equal on the year's most wins with Mat Jackson, and he ended the season in fourth place, just 19 points shy of Shedden.

Ryan Smith

The new British Truck Racing Champion only took up the sport three seasons ago, having moved from the rather different discipline of drifting. In his first year he challenged for the Division 2 title, then bought an ex-European Championship MAN truck from multiple champion Jochen Hahn. He was immediately on the pace, and a strong 2015 was followed by a storming year in which he entered the final weekend at Brands Hatch needing just a single point to take the title. Rather than cruising to a safe finish in the opening race he took on championship rival and multiple title-winner Stuart Oliver, and threw caution to the wind with several risky manoeuvres. Ultimately he finished in second place, but it proved he was a worthy champion and won twice later on that weekend. Earlier in the year he also took on the European Championship grid and won.

Freddie Hunt

Freddie was only five when James Hunt passed away in 1993, but he has been in awe of his father ever since. With 2016 marking 40 years since the dramatic 1976 World Championship, immortalised in the motion picture Rush, Freddie revelled in the celebrations. He was guest of honour at the Masters Historic Festival, signing autographs and meeting fans, and drove his dad's Tour of Britain-winning Chevrolet Camaro. A few weeks later he was back to compete in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series at American SpeedFest IV.

Enzo Ide

An Audi victory at the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup at Brands Hatch was on the cards, but Laurens Vanthoor or Robin Frijns were the most likely contenders to be spraying champagne from the top step of the podium. Enzo Ide has been racing for Belgium Audi Club Team WRT for several seasons as a highly enthusiastic amateur alongside pro ace Christopher Mies, but this year he stepped up several notches and his win in the main race was the springboard that propelled him to the Sprint Cup title.

Jules Szymkowiak

The opening race of the Brands Hatch Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup weekend was claimed by the Mercedes-AMG of Jules Szymkowiak and DTM legend Bernd Schneider, thanks to a great start from the 21-year-old Dutchman. But for a better pitstop strategy they could have claimed a double, and Szymkowiak did all he could to deny race leader Mies the win. It was this and other fighting performances that earned him the inaugural Sean Edwards Trophy for promising young GT drivers earlier this month.

Jonny Adam

Ever since he moved across from tip tops to GT cars, Jonny Adam has been one of the British GT Championship's standout competitors. Missing out on the 2013 title thanks to a points deduction penalty was tough, but he came back to win the championship last season before splitting with the Beechdean team and long-standing co-driver Andrew Howard. He remained with Aston Martin, however, and moved to TF Sport to partner Derek Johnston. After dominating the first two events, including the Brands Hatch opener, even a fallow mid-season period couldn't stop Jonny from becoming British GT's first back-to-back champion.

Matheus Leist

British F3's first champion following the category's MSV-assisted rebirth won at the opening two events at Snetterton and Brands Hatch, but was overshadowed by Ricky Collard as the season progressed. Things didn't look great after Snetterton when Collard won twice, but the Brazilian turned it all around and with Collard suffering a shocker at the Donington finale, it was Leist who took the spoils.

Jason Kenny

Our final hero of 2016 achieved his greatest success away from the motorsport arena, but it was typical of this unassuming man that he should follow up equalling Sir Chris Hoy's British Olympic record of six Gold Medals by taking part in a club motor race. Less than two weeks after stepping off the plane from Rio, Jason Kenny jumped into a Radical at Brands Hatch, adorned with six Gold Medal decals (and one Silver), and scored a sixth place finish in the Radical Challenge Championship. It wasn't his only appearance at the Kent circuit this year; a few weeks later he competed alongside members of the public in the Revolve 24 Hour cycling race. Here is a hero who neither expects nor demands superstar treatment.

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.

 

 Shakey

 Shedden

 Turkington

 RyanSmith 
 FreddieHunt

 Ide

 Jules

 Adam 

 Leist

 Kenny

Images courtesy of Az Edwards, BTCC, MSV, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, Blancpain GT, British GT, BRDC British F3 and Gary Hawkins.