Motor sport review 2013
Mark Kendall takes a look back at the highs, lows and all the drama on two and four wheels over the past year
By Mark Kendall - Twitter: @SkySportsMK
Last Updated: 20/12/13 5:41pm
The MotoGP World Championship saw a thrilling finale with the battle for the title going down to the very last race. In the end it was Spain's Marc Marquez who prevailed in his debut season in the class, edging out compatriot and defending champion Jorge Lorenzo by just four points.
There was British success to cheer in World Superbikes as Yorkshireman Tom Sykes made up for the heartbreak of missing out by just half a point last year to become the fourth British winner of the title after Carl Fogarty, Neil Hodgson and James Toseland.
In the British championship, Samsung Honda rider Alex Lowes became the youngest-ever champion as he edged out Shane Byrne, denying 'Shakey' a record fourth crown by seven points overall.
Despite the fact Sebastian Loeb (who competed in only four rounds this season, winning two of them) had all but retired, France continued to dominate the World Rally Championship as 30-year-old Sebastien Ogier won nine of the 13 races to pick up his first title.
Switzerland's Fabio Leimer proved hugely-consistent in the second half of the season to beat British duo Sam Bird and James Calado to the GP2 series crown.
However, there was no opportunity forthcoming in F1 next season for Leimer, although that was not the case for GP3 champ Daniil Kvyat. The teenage Russian prodigy finished his rookie campaign in brilliant style with feature race wins in Italy and Abu Dhabi to land the crown and was duly rewarded with the seat vacated by Red Bull-bound Daniel Ricciardo at Scuedria Toro Rosso next term.
Another youngster parachuted into the big time was Formula Renault 3.5 winner Kevin Magnussen, with the young Dane looking to follow in the footsteps of a certain Lewis Hamilton having been given his chance at McLaren in 2014.
Across the pond, Jimmie Johnson clinched his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup championship in eight years and also won the season biggest race; the Daytona 500. However, Danica Patrick also made history that weekend as she became the first woman to win a pole in the Sprint Cup.
The Indycar series featured four first-time winners in 2013, but it was old-hand Scott Dixon who eventually saw off the challenge of Helio Castroneves to land his third crown, while Castroneves' fellow Brazilian Tony Kanaan produced a career moment to win the Indianapolis 500.
RML driver Yvan Muller of France won the World Touring Car series, his fourth following successes in 2008, 2010 and 2011, while England's Andrew Jordan picked up the British series title.
Audi emerged victorious at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but the race was overshadowed by the third-lap death of Aston Martin driver Allan Simonsen - the first fatality at the event since 1997.
Meanwhile, Japan's Yoshinari Matsushita became the 21st motorcyclist to lose his life at the Isle of Man TT since 2000. John McGuinness mastered the treacherous course to win the blue riband Senior TT race - his 20th success at the meeting.
Click here for a look back at the year in pictures with the 2013 motorsport gallery
Series of the year - MotoGP
It really was a vintage year in the MotoGP Championship as Spanish trio Marc Marquez, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa produced a title battle to cherish.
Having taken the step up after claiming the Moto 2 title, Marquez quickly demonstrated his ability to mix it with the big boys as he became the youngest premier class champion by winning the second round of the season - the inaugural Grand Prix of the Americas.
It proved the prelude to a host of superb contests between the top three, although defending champ Lorenzo's hopes were hindered by a heavy crash at Assen that left him with a fractured collarbone on a weekend that was also notable for Valentino Rossi's first race win since 2010.
With just three races to go, Marquez appeared to have things sewn up with a commanding 43-point lead at the top of the standings. However, the youngster was then dramatically disqualified in Australia and, with Lorenzo winning both there and in Japan, the battle went down to the wire in Valencia.
Lorenzo did his bit by winning the final race but, knowing a top-four finish would suffice, Marquez held his nerve and rode a mature race to come home in third, sealing the championship and completing a dream first campaign in the top category.
Race of the year - British MotoGP at Silverstone
As ever there were no shortage of contenders in this category, but we'll head back to MotoGP for what was a memorable British Grand Prix back at the start of September, a breath-taking spectacle that was only settled at the final corner.
Championship leader Marquez had not even been certain to start the race at Silverstone after dislocating his shoulder in the warm-up, but climbed back on his factory Honda and was able to cling on to the rear wheel of the fast-starting Lorenzo throughout.
The youngster then defied his injury to nip ahead of his rival with a little over two laps remaining. It sparked a fierce battle over the closing stages that saw the lead change hands on another three occasions, the thrilling denouement coming when Lorenzo barged his way through at the last corner to take the spoils.
"This was one of the best races I've ever had," a delighted Lorenzo said afterwards. "When he overtook me three corners from the end I thought it was over again and second place but then he opened a little gap in the last corner so I thought "now or never" and I tried and got it."
Driver/rider of the year - Marc Marquez
It's a hat-trick for MotoGP as Marquez gets the nod for his stunning debut season in the championship. The 20-year-old from Catalunya sent records tumbling all season from youngest MotoGP race winner, to youngest champion and plenty more in between.
But perhaps most striking was the manner in which Marquez accomplished his feats; his swashbuckling, all-out attacking riding style (which also sees him tilting the bike to a seemingly impossible angle and scraping his elbow on the floor!) was complimented by an openness and exuberance off it that made it impossible not to warm to the Spaniard.
Marquez looks set to go on and become a legend of the sport and is already rubbing shoulders with some pretty distinguished company having become only the fourth rider to win world championships in three different categories along with Mike Hailwood, Phil Read and, his own idol, Valentino Rossi.
Low point of the year - Dario Franchitti's crash and retirement
Often overlooked in his native Britain, Scotsman Dario Franchitti has long been one of motorsport's most impressive performers. However, a horrific crash in October forced the 40-year-old Indycar legend to call time on his stellar career. His car careered into catch-fencing after contact with rival Takuma Sato leaving Franchitti with two fractured vertebrae, a broken ankle and severe concussion. A month later, on 14 November, Franchitti announced his immediate retirement from motor racing on the advice of doctors. His quite superb CV boasts 31 victories from 265 starts in American open-wheel racing and ensures he will be ranked alongside the all-time greats.
Shooting star - Cal Crutchlow
It is 32 years and counting since Britain last boasted a race winner in the premier class of motor-cycling racing. The legendary Barry Sheene (twice a world champion) was that man as he claimed his last victory in Sweden back in August of 1981, but Britain now looks to have a rider capable of emulating Sheene's achievements.
Cal Crutchlow served notice of his ability with two podium finishes in the MotoGP category in 2012 and repeated the feat this time around. But such was the 28-year-old's consistency this season he finished fifth in the championship and secured himself a factory ride at Ducati next term. It will undoubtedly prove a huge challenge for the Midlander to get the best out of the Italian stable's notoriously difficult Desmosedici bike in 2014, but his outstanding performance over the past couple of seasons has certainly earned him the right to try.
Sporting great - Tom Kristensen
2013 saw Dane Tom Kristensen further enhance his legacy with a record ninth victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, his first win at the event in five years. The 46-year-old began his career back in 1984 winning a whole host of karting titles before moving up to enjoy further success in Formula 3 and Touring Cars. It is Le Mans though where he has really made his mark, six consecutive triumphs at the 24-hour race between 2000 and 2005 ensuring that. Victories either side of that run in 1997 and 2008 put him out in front in terms of overall Le Mans wins and this year he extended his lead with another success at the wheel of the Audi Sport Team Joest.
Quotes of the year
"I think they (women) have the strength, but I don't know if they've got the mental aptitude to race hard, wheel-to-wheel." Sterling Moss shares his views on women racers.
"I completely disagree with him. It makes me cringe hearing that." F1 development driver Susie Wolff hits back at Moss.
"Racing has been my life for over 30 years and it's really tough to think that the driving side is now over." An emotional Dario Fanchitti attempts to come to terms with his injury-enforced retirement.
"Dario was one of the drivers I always looked up to as a youngster. He's a proper legend of the sport." Jenson Button hails Franchitti after his announcement.
"It will be hard. I honestly don't know if I can do it by changing chief engineer, but this is the right moment, because from February to June there is testing and the first six races, and I'll have to decide whether to carry on or quit with MotoGP, so I need to make a step forward. I'd like to continue, but I'll continue if I'm competitive." Valentino Rossi, who announced a shock parting of the ways with chief mechanic Jeremy Burgess in 2013, admits he will consider his future in the MotoGP class next year.
"I am excited and looking forward to it but I will be more interested to see what happens at the tests next year than next week. I don't expect the bike to be competitive to win the first race next year and it is going to be a long process that I believe will take the two years that I have committed to them." Cal Crutchlow insists he is playing the long game having signed for Ducati.
"The most difficult thing was to carry on driving after we had heard the news about Allan Simonsen. I've ran off the kerbs myself many times in that same corner, you realise it can happen to anyone. That was a really tough moment for all of us I think, to carry on driving to carry on pushing in those conditions." Anthony Davidson speaks after the tragic death of Allan Simosen at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans.
"There's definitely quite a few responses I'd like to put out there. I'm absolutely over the moon. So emotional. I shed a few tears on the slowing down lap. I'm shaking like... well I won't say what I'm shaking like, but let's say very emotional and let's say lots of sacrifices to get here!" Tom Sykes opens up after winning the World Superbikes title.