We at Crash.net
recently invited you to cast your vote for your favourite riders in this year's Bennetts British Superbikes season by rating their efforts out of ten.
Now, having crunched the numbers and tapped the calculators we will begin to start counting down the riders you believe were most deserving of your plaudits in 2008.
Over the next ten days, we will be revealing the top ten in reverse order, with the winner being revealed on Friday 14 November. Almost 12,000 votes were cast on the BSB poll, with each riders average score out of ten then being calculated to decide the winner.
BSB Rider of the Year – Seventh place:
North West 200 Ducati
Ducati 1098R F08
In the year that saw him roll around to his 300th British Superbike race, the mightily experienced Michael Rutter returned to the top of the podium with the new North West 200 Ducat concern.
Making the switch from Kawasaki, Rutter showed why he is regarded as one of Britain's best racers as he regularly breached the 'big five' and even snatched arguably the finest victory of the season at Mallory Park.
Starting the season well with a pair of podiums at Thruxton, although Rutter's season took the occasional dip as he invariably fought with tyre problems – not to mention the change in the Ducati weight levels that were mostly aimed at the Airwaves bikes -, his experience helped him onto the rostrum a total of four times, while he was in contention for a top five finish overall up until the final couple of races.
Mallory Park was the big highlight though. Having hurt his hand in a heavy fall in the first race, an ailing Rutter took a risk in choosing slick tyres for the second event on a greasy circuit that had been hit by a rain shower shortly before the off.
The extent of the tricky conditions meant that even the wet-shod bikes were struggling to stay upright, but Rutter used all of his know-how to not only move to the front, but also pull away. Winning by a four seconds, it was one of Rutter's finest career moments.
A strong showing at Knockhill followed with a second place finish, while top five results at Cadwell Park and Silverstone meant he kept his most obvious rival, James Ellison, at bay in the final standings.
With GSE Racing switching to Yamaha machinery in 2009, the path is now clear for North West 200 to expand their relationship with Ducati - and Rutter could be at the forefront of this. With one year on the bike – an advantage he will have over most of his rivals - Rutter could well go into 2009 as a favourite for the title he so dearly wants.
7th – Michael Rutter
8th – John Laverty
9th – Michael Laverty
10th – Simon Andrews
Tomorrow: We reach number six in the BSB Rider of the Year poll.