30 DEC 2018 POSTED BY JONAS PLÜMERThe year 2018 is drawing to a close – time for us to look at the, in our opinion, best GT rider of the year!
But before we name the 10 best pilots of the year, in our opinion, we are looking at a few riders who have just fallen short in our list, but we would like to praise:
Robert Renauer (Convinced in the ADAC GT Masters season 2018 with high consistency and was able to win, together with Mathieu Jaminet, the title.)
Maro Engel (Convinced in the 2018 Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup with a high degree of consistency and could win so, together with Luca Stolz and Yelmer Buurman, the title.)
Pierre-Alexandre Jean (The young Frenchman was one of the shooting stars in the 2018 GT4 European Series season, and together with the Alpine A110 GT4, Jean was a hard-to-beat unit.)
Christopher Mies (While Mies suffered bad luck in the ADAC GT Masters, he finished the season in 2nd place in the Blancpain GT Series and Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup.)
Patrick Pilet (The Frenchman was the ace of Porsche in long distance races and was able to win the 12h Sebring, the 24h at the Nürburgrung and the Petit Le Mans.)
Harry Tincknell (In Ford’s WEC squad, the young Brit is now the fastest pilot.)
Maximilian Götz (By enormous constancy Götz held in the title fight until the last ADAC GT Masters race, before he was shot down as a poleman, on the title course, in the first turn.)
Jan Magnussen (Convinced in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship2018 with high consistency and thus, together with Antonio Garcia, could win the title.The Corvette duo did not win, but you could go on the podium seven times in a row.)
Carrie Schreiner (In her first full GT3 season, Schreiner, together with Fabian Plentz, champion in the GT3 class of the DMV GTC – read more here – she will start in the ADAC GT Masters in the 2019 season)
Kris Heidorn (Kris Heidorn became dominant champion in the Audi Sport Seyffarth R8 LMS Cup – we talked to him about the season .)
The 24-year-old Italian, who was born in Zurich, was the defining driver in this year’s GT season. “Lello” was champion in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup and overall winner in the Blancpain GT Series. In addition, Marciello, who only drove his second season in GT sports, finished second in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup. In the Endurance Cup, the youngster was also able to show an uncanny consistency, in which he was able to finish in the top six of all races, except for the season opener in Monza. Also in the Incontinental GT Challenge he fought for the title until the season finale, but a bad race in Laguna Seca took Raffaele Marciello all title chances – in the end he finished there 3rd place in the standings. In addition, he played four races together with Patrick Assenheimer in the ADAC GT Masters, where he won a 2nd place in Zandvoort.
Connor de Phillippi (26 years / USA)
For the 26-year-old American, it was the first season as a BMW factory driver. His main program was at the wheel of the new BMW M8 GTE in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. After the teething troubles of the new GTE Bolidens were eradicated, de Phillippi was able to win class victories at the Virginia International Raceway and in Laguna Seca. In addition, the Californian also achieved a victory in Germany: Together with Jesse Krohn, Connor de Phillippi won the second VLN race of the year with a BMW M6 GT3 from ROWE Racing.
Kelvin van der Linde (22 years / South Africa)
Kelvin van der Linde had a very busy but successful season in 2018. Together with his younger brother Sheldon, he drove for Montaplast by Land-Motorsport in the ADAC GT Masters. The pair ended the season in second place in the standings, just one point behind the champion. At the Sachsenring and in Hockenheim, the 22-year-old South African was able to win races. For the team from the Westerwald he also participated in the 24h Spa, which he finished 3rd. He drove for Attempto Racing in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup, as he did in the Endurance Cup. At the season opener in Zolder he was able to win a race with his partner Steijn Schothorst. The duo finished the season in 3rd place in the overall standings. The season in the Endurance Cup was, except for the race in Spa, less successful for van der Linde, where he finished only 8th in the overall standings. In addition the South African showed a good speed at the 24h Daytona, because of a questionable punishment (here more about this ) but this application was not rewarded.
Sheldon van der Linde (19 years / South Africa)
Sheldon van der Linde
Even the younger of the van der Linde brothers has made it to our top list. Together with his brother, 19-year-old Sheldon van der Linde became runner-up in the ADAC GT Masters, earning two race wins. In addition, he finished, together with his brother and Jeffrey Schmidt, 3rd place at the 24h Spa – a huge success in his first season in GT sports. In addition, van der Linde drove for WRT in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, which he finished in 10th overall. In addition, van der Linde showed strong performances in the four long distance races of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which, however, remained unfulfilled for a variety of reasons. In addition, he won the “Sean Edwards Trophy”, which will be awarded to aspiring GT pilots ( more here ).
Laurens Vanthoor (27 years / Belgium)
On paper, the season of “Larry” – the nickname of Vanthoor – in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship mediocre reads: Together with his teammate Earl Bamber, the Belgian finished 5th in the overall standings of the GTLM class. The duo’s only win of the season was in Mid Ohio. But Vanthoor showed strong performances in the Porsche 911 RSR throughout the season, but also had the bad luck sticking to his heels. In Le Mans Vanthoor dominated, together with Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen, the GTE Pro class and earned a deserved class victory. In the qualifying session of the 24h Nürburgring, Laurens Vanthoor put the Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R in pole position and set a lap time of8: 09.105 minutes a new course record. Even in the race, the car ran long before it crashed with a teammate behind the wheel during the night. And even at the 24h Spa, the 27-year-old Belgian had bad luck. After a strong race, he crashed on Sunday morning in the roundabout traffic. But in addition to all the bad luck Vanthoor also had a sense of achievement in 2018: Pole and victory at the VLN season opener in March.
Kevin Estre (30 years / France)
Kevin Estre dominates, together with Michael Christensen, so far the GTE Pro class in the WEC. In all five races so far in the “Super Season”, the Porsche duo has been on the podium. Estre thus achieved so many podium results in the series in the season so far, as in his other seasons before. In addition, together with Laurens Vanthoor, they dominated the 24h Le Mans in the class. In addition, he was able to win the VLN season opener and was able to drive in the ADAC GT Masters a race win, which was later denied, as the vehicle was fixed the Gurney flap on the rear wing with tape, which does not meet the rules.
Michael Meadows (31 years / Great Britain)
For the 31-year-old Brit Michael Meadows, the 2018 season was the breakthrough in GT3 sports. After making a name for himself in the British Porsche Carrera Cup in particular, he and Raffaele Marciello won the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup title this season. In the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup he shared a vehicle with the Russians Denis Bulatov and Vitaly Petrov and Aleksey Korneev, but could not repeat the results from the Sprint Cup there. A 7th place in Le Castellet, the trio can register for the best result.
Mathieu Jaminet (24 years / France)
Mathieu Jaminet (F) Precote Herberth MotorsportThe 24-year-old Porsche junior Mathieu Jaminet, together with Robert Renauer, was this year’s champion in the ADAC GT Masters. The duo showed an enormous consistency over the entire season, which ultimately helped to win the title. At the Petit Le Mans, the season finale of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Jaminet celebrated his debut in a factory Porsche 911 RSR and knew how to convince there. The young Frenchman was also able to show his speed on the Nürburgring Nordschleife this year, even if there were no successes there.
Nicki Thiim (29 years / Denmark)
Photo: WECThe 29-year-old Dane is not only one of the most popular pilots, but also one of the fastest. In the WEC season 2018/2019 Thiim, together with his Danish partner Marco Sörensen, had to fight at the beginning of the season with the new Aston Martin Vantage. But as the car got to know better, the results continued to improve, and at the last race in Shanghai, they celebrated their first class win with the new car in the GTE Pro class. He also drove for R-Motorsport in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, where he celebrated two poles and a race win. Thiim, together with Sörensen, Maxime Martin and Darren Truner, finished the 24h race at the Nürburgring in fourth place after a strong performance. His 2018 program was rounded off with a 3rd place overall in the British GT Championship,
Nicolaj Möller Madsen (25 years / Denmark)
In a true heart-stopping match, Dane Nicolaj Möller Madsen, together with Milan Dontje, clinched the title in the GT4 European Series in the Audi R8 of Phoenix Racing. After the last race of the season, the top three placed in the overall standings tied for points – Möller Madsen and Dontje crowned themselves the champions due to the highest number of wins. In addition, the duo Möller Madsen / Dontje finished 2nd in the GT4 International Cup in Bahrain.