SPORTSCAR365: Top 10 Cars of 2017

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

While it’s often the drivers and teams that get credit for race wins and championships, nothing would be possible without the cars beneath them.

After counting down the best races and drivers of the sports car racing season, Sportscar365 takes a look at the top 10 prototypes and GT cars of the year:

10. Mercedes-AMG GT3 – The Mercedes-AMG GT3 has become a staple of GT3 series worldwide following a successful debut in 2016, and this year it has gone on to win the Blancpain GT Series Asia with GruppeM while coming runner-up in the Pirelli World Challenge SprintX standings with CRP Racing. The car is a firm fan favorite and arguably one of the best-looking cars in its class.

9. Aston Martin Vantage GTE – Aston Martin’s veteran GTE car went out with a bang by winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a last-gasp battle between Jonny Adam and Corvette Racing’s Jordan Taylor, beating a field of considerably newer cars. The Vantage GTE also claimed the WEC GTE-Am title with the longtime trio of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda. It made its debut as a GT2 car in 2008 before the GTE version came out in 2012, but will be replaced by a new car next season.

8. Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR – The Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR was one of the first ‘new-gen’ GT4 cars and, along with the McLaren 570S GT4, has been part of the inspiration for many new manufacturers entering the class, including BMW, Audi, Mercedes-AMG, Ford and Chevrolet. The Porsche won the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge GS title as well as championships in the GT4 European Series Southern Cup and Blancpain GT Series Asia.

7. Lamborghini Huracan GT3 – With an all-factory lineup of Mirko Bortolotti, Christian Engelhart and Andrea Caldarelli for the first time this season, the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 made its mark on the Blancpain GT Series, enough to win both the overall and Endurance Cup titles. It wasn’t just with Grasser Racing Team that the Huracan GT3 had success, however, as the car racked up eight titles in worldwide competition this year.

6. Porsche 919 Hybrid – 2017 was another season in which the Porsche 919 Hybrid had tremendous success, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans outright and the WEC titles for the third consecutive times. The 919 Hybrid retires after four seasons of competition at the pinnacle of sports car racing and leaves a huge legacy as one of the few cars capable of challenging the dominance of Audi at Le Mans with what became its own era of triumphs.

5. Ferrari 488 GTE – After a successful debut in 2016, the Ferrari 488 GTE had an even better season this year, with AF Corse’s James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi winning the WEC GTE title its highlight success. JMW Motorsport also campaigned a 488 GTE with which it claimed the GTE-Am class win at Le Mans and European Le Mans Series GTE title. The car enjoyed success on the other side of the pond as well, with Risi Competizione finishing on the podium in five of the seven IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races it entered.

4. Oreca 07 Gibson – The standout of the 2017-spec LMP2 cars, the Oreca 07 Gibson dominated the WEC this year as usually the only car in the class while also winning at Le Mans at the hands of Jackie Chan DC Racing by Jota Sport. The car was an incredible 11 seconds a lap quicker than its predecessor during qualifying at Le Mans and it led outright at one point during the race with the LMP1 field all suffering from problems. Furthermore, it won the ELMS title and at least one car finished in the top two in every race despite a fairly even mix of Orecas, Ligier JS P217 Gibsons and Dallara P217 Gibsons in the class.

3. Toyota TS050 Hybrid – While Porsche stands out on paper in the results of the 2017 WEC season by winning both the title and Le Mans, this year was also one of great improvement for Toyota Gazoo Racing. The German-Japanese outfit had its best season of LMP1 competition since 2014 and won five of nine races. The TS050 Hybrid itself had a marked development this year, going three seconds a lap quicker at Le Mans and with Kamui Kobayashi shattering the qualifying record lap time. It heads into the 2018/19 ‘Super Season’ as the last LMP1 Hybrid standing after the withdrawal of both Audi and Porsche.

2. Audi R8 LMS – Despite facing competition from a myriad newer GT3 cars, the Audi R8 LMS had more success than any of its competition in 2017, winning the 24 Hours of Spa and Nürburgring 24 outright and the GT Daytona class at the Motul Petit Le Mans. Its victories at Spa and the California 8 Hours propelled it to secure the Intercontinental GT Challenge trophy while also taking victory in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup. The continuing success of the Audi R8 LMS Cup in Asia also shows the car’s international accomplishments.

1. Cadillac DPi-V.R – By far the best Prototype in the WeatherTech Championship this season, the Cadillac DPi-V.R had a debut season few other cars could match. It started the season with a seven-race win streak including the enduros at Daytona, Sebring and Watkins Glen, despite numerous Balance of Performance adjustments handed down. It took until the Road America race in August for it to finally be beaten by the Nissan Onroak DPi. The Cadillac is based on the Dallara P217 global-spec LMP2 car which, while not being as well-represented as the Oreca or Ligier, did score a victory in the ELMS.