editors have come together to compile a list of what we think is the definitive Top 50 riders and
drivers in motorsport this year.
Over the coming days we will be counting down to our #1, but in the meantime check out who we have placed 30 to 21...
Let us know what you think!
Click to see the riders and drivers we ranked 50 - 41
Click to see the riders and drivers we ranked 40 - 31
30 – Bradley Smith
6th in the F1 World Championship
Though his reputation as a safe pair of hands hasn't always been seen as a virtue, Bradley Smith came of age in 2015 as he bolstered that dependability with some impressive turns of speed. Comfortably out-performing his Yamaha-contracted team-mate Pol Espargaro on the Tech 3 machine, Smith barely put a wheel wrong in 2015 and delivered some fine results on top, not least his podium at Misano. Finishing every race inside the top ten – including ten top six finishes -, Smith was just seven points shy of the top five overall and 56 clear of the next privateer rider.
29 – Nico Hulkenberg
10th in the F1 World Championship
Winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours (LMP1)
In an age where sponsors and manufacturers are often afraid to let their drivers loose on alternative projects, kudos to Force India for allowing Nico Hulkenberg to compete in the iconic Le Mans 24 Hours. The publicity gleaned from his appearance was alone enough to validate the decision, even before he went ahead and claimed a stunning win alongside Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber. More than making up for a solid, if unspectacular F1 season, Hulkenberg showed what can be done when F1 dares to break-out from its own bubble.
28 - Alex Rins
2nd in the Moto2 World Championship
All eyes may have been on Alex Marquez to see whether he could follow in his brother's footsteps with a rapid debut in Moto2, but it was his countryman Alex Rins that instead stole the rookie limelight in 2015. Riding the Pons Kalex, Rins tempered pace with consistency through ten podiums, including wins at Indianapolis and Phillip Island. Finishing ahead of former Pons starlet – and defending champion – Esteve Rabat, Rins will go head-to-head with 2015 title winner Johann Zarco in 2016.
27 - Neel Jani – Romain Dumas – Marc Lieb
3rd in the World Endurance Championship
History will show Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard as the title winners, but it could so easily have been Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb in the sister #18 Porsche 919 Hybrid celebrating the World Endurance Championship in 2015. With penalties at the Nurburgring and technical issues in COTA (both whilst leading) gifting victories to the #17 car, Jani, Dumas and Lieb 'took one for the team' in the final races as it slipped into a supporting role to ensure Porsche sealed the title. Mission accomplished for the manufacturer, but unfinished business for the Swiss-German trio.
26 – Nelson Piquet
1st in the Formula E Championship
Not much has been seen of Nelson Piquet Jr since he was exiled from Formula 1 in the wake of the 'Crash-gate' scandal that engulfed Renault back in 2008, with stints in Rallycross and Stock Cars peppered across an otherwise a sporadic recent activity record. Given a renewed chance to rebuild his career in the burgeoning Formula E Championship, the Brazilian's initial consistency in the China Racing effort gathered momentum when he won at Long Beach and Moscow. Against better fancied – and more race fit - rivals Sebastien Buemi and Lucas di Grassi, Piquet prevailed in a tense London finale to complete a startling return to prominence after so many years in the racing wilderness.
25 – John McGuinness
2 wins on the Isle of Man TT
John McGuinness's record-breaking victory in a pulsating Senior race at the Isle of Man TT in June provided one of the most memorable moments of the 2015 season. Setting a new outright lap record for the 37.73-mile Mountain Course at 132.702mph, win number 23 (his seventh Senior TT success) was one of McGuinness's greatest performances at the TT – no mean feat for a rider that is fast closing on Joey Dunlop's hallowed record of 26 TT successes.
24 – Scott Dixon
1st in the IndyCar Championship
Juan Pablo Montoya may have been the fan favourite for the IndyCar Series title, but that should in no way diminish the achievement of the driver that pipped him to the post, Scott Dixon. A poor start to the season was instantly forgotten after the Kiwi won at Long Beach, and from there he quietly and methodically worked his way up the championship standings adding another win at Texas. Though snatching the title from Montoya appeared to be a long shot since he needed an outright win at the Sonoma finale, that is exactly what Dixon did to clinch championship number four by the smallest of margins.
23 – Chaz Davies
2nd in the World Superbike Championship
The troublesome Ducati 1199 Panigale may have finally evolved into a competitive World Superbike in 2015, but Chaz Davies was a big reason for the manufacturers' return to the winners' circle this year. The regulation changes may have favoured the twin-cylinder machine, but it was still down on top speed compared with its rivals. Nonetheless, Davies' late-braking and pin-point accuracy made amends, allowing him to notch up five richly-deserved wins as the closest thing to a rival for the all-conquering Jonathan Rea.
22 – Nick Tandy
Winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours
Nick Tandy is one of Britain's great unsung racing heroes… and one of its humblest to boot. Those in the know always expected Nick Tandy to produce something special when he was given the 'keys' to a Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 for the Le Mans 24 Hours, and he still managed to exceed expectations. Though Nico Hulkenberg and Earl Bamber provided excellent support, it was Tandy's overnight stints under the cloak of darkness that helped the #19 car to edge away from the competition and clinch a famous win. On top of that, Tandy starred in the KCMG Oreca-Nissan in the LMP2 class when his Porsche commitments allowed it, proving himself to be one of the most adept – but hugely underrated – sportscar drivers around.
21 – Marc Marquez
3rd in the MotoGP World Championship
Excusing 'that' incident with Valentino Rossi for a moment, Marc Marquez will be the first admit he struggled for the most part in 2015. With many expecting the 'age of Marquez' to continue in 2015, the youngster instead found himself wrestling less compliant Honda machinery, with errors and lacklustre results leaving him out of the title reckoning remarkably early. To his credit – and considering he remains relatively 'new' to machine development -, Marquez regained his composure as the season progressed and he was still a five-time race winner in 2015 on less competitive bike. As for Sepang, well that's up to you…