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Crash.net's Motorsport Top 50 for 2016 - The Top 10

You've had your say, now it is time for ours... This is Crash.net's own definitive Top 10 riders and drivers for 2016!
10.
Valentino Rossi
MotoGP World Championship – 2nd

After the very public fallout of 2015, Valentino Rossi aimed to put demons to rest this year but instead of rivals being his downfall, vital slips ultimately damaged the MotoGP legend's strive for a 10th world title. Nevertheless, Rossi demonstrated no loss of his sparkle in his determined pursuit and while he couldn't quite go toe-to-toe with Marc Marquez when it mattered, two wins and eight podiums were sufficient in an ultra-competitive season to end the year as top Yamaha rider and runner-up overall.

9.
Cal Crutchlow
MotoGP World Championship – 7th

With zero points from the opening three events, one could be forgiven for thinking Cal Crutchlow was about to embark on a swansong season in MotoGP. By the end of 2016, however, the LCR Honda rider was a two-time race winner and his stock is riding higher than ever. Kicking off a superb run of mid-season results with a fine second in Germany, Crutchlow then became the first British premier class GP race winner since Barry Sheene in 1981 with a spellbinding performance in Brno. From here, his form barely dipped with a pole position and another podium at Silverstone a week later. Despite more than a few crashes, a second race win came at the legendary Phillip Island in the wet to make it Crutchlow's most lucrative MotoGP campaign yet


Johann Zarco

8.
Johann Zarco
Moto2 World Championship – Champion

Johann Zarco became the first rider to secure back-to-back intermediate grand prix class titles since Jorge Lorenzo in 2008 by defending his Moto2 title in fine style. Sticking with the Ajo team, Zarco was under pressure to maintain the superb performance of his 2015 title win but continued to prove the class of the field to win at a relative canter. Putting aside an indifferent start of the season to pull clear in the middle of the year, six wins assured him of championship glory and a step up into MotoGP for 2017.

7.
Sebastien Ogier
World Rally Championship – Champion

Another year, another title for Sebastien Ogier in the World Rally Championship. The Frenchman was made to work harder than ever as Kris Meeke, Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen stepped up their opposition, but the VW driver rarely looked troubled as a pair of wins straight away gave him an early lead he'd maintain to the end of the season. In all Ogier won six rallies to win by more than 100 points, securing himself a fourth consecutive title. Now comes his biggest challenge though as he looks to transfer that form from the departed VW to M-Sport Ford for 2017…

6.
Maverick Vinales
MotoGP World Championship – 4th

After a solid if unspectacular rookie MotoGP campaign in 2015, Maverick Vinales's reputation ascended courtesy of some roaring performances in 2016. The eye-catching victory at Silverstone being the obvious standout for Suzuki, podiums in Japan, Australia and Le Mans showed his sharp-end pace and tenacity that belied his relative experience. Vinales dovetailed this performance with supreme consistency by only missing out on the top 10 on two occasions, the Spaniard getting the most from a rapidly improving Suzuki package. Tipped a future MotoGP world champion and 'one of the aliens', once Jorge Lorenzo was inking his Ducati contract there was no doubt why Yamaha came knocking for the 21-year-old.

Lewis Hamilton

5.
Lewis Hamilton
F1 World Championship – 2nd

Lewis Hamilton has made it clear how he is justifying the loss of his F1 world title to Nico Rosberg but a disparity in the technical misdemeanours he suffered shouldn't be used to devalue either his or his team-mate's season. Arguably Hamilton performed better-than-ever on occasion in 2016. Though this is something we have come to expect from the dominant Mercedes team, it is telling that seven of his ten wins were completed with dominant lights-to-flag victories and rarely did he look under pressure when he was the driver in front. While it wasn't enough to offset the difference created by his Malaysian Grand Prix blowout and occasional slips in focus did some harm, 10 wins and 12 pole positions in isolation are a mighty achievement in a year that saw him come up against several hurdles – both on and off track.

4.
Jonathan Rea
World Superbike Championship – Champion

With the combination of Jonathan Rea and Kawasaki proving as potent as many expected – and rivals feared – in 2015, the Ulsterman was again difficult to beat in the 2016 World Superbike Championship. Though tweaks to the bike didn't work in his favour, Rea thought his way around the revised ZX-10R, his combination of speed, intelligence and exceptional composure proving too solid a package for Tom Sykes and Chaz Davies to crack. Rivals were occasionally quicker on the day but at no point did anyone look capable of challenging Rea over an entire season as he became the first man since Carl Fogarty to notch up back-to-back WSBK titles.

3.
Nico Rosberg
F1 World Championship – Champion

You only had to witness the sheer relief that came in the moments that followed his title win to see exactly what it meant to Nico Rosberg to – finally – be able to call himself world champion. As it became clear early on that the 2016 fight would come down to a tense head-to-head between Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, the German very clearly knuckled down to focus on the mental edge that would make the difference in another tight battle of wills. Four wins out of the box were lucrative but offset by the general assertion that it was only made possible by his team-mate's issues. The fact Hamilton not only came back but went comfortably clear means credit should be given to Rosberg for the mental fortitude he showed by getting back ahead and not putting a foot wrong thereafter. Mid-season scuffles aside, the newly-retired Rosberg literally saved his best until last.


2.
Max Verstappen
F1 World Championship – 5th

The revelation of the 2015 season, Max Verstappen's star power multiplied in 2016 on the back of his initially controversial – but quickly justified – move to Red Bull five rounds into the season. Victory on his debut with the team in Spain may have been fortuitous but the manner of his composed performance earned him huge praise regardless. His occasionally unpolished style didn't always sit well with rivals in the heat of battle – neither did his unflappable attitude afterwards – but Verstappen supplemented his edginess with maturity, his podiums in Canada, Austria, UK, Malaysia and Japan as well-thought out as they were exciting to watch. Then of course there was his simply stunning wet weather driving in Brazil…


Marc Marquez
1.
Marc Marquez
MotoGP World Championship – Champion

Hurting and hungry after 2015, the Repsol Honda rider once again wrestled with his Honda, the new Michelin tyres and unified ECU but this year he had learnt a key lesson: win it or bin it doesn't always land world titles. A solid start of two wins and two thirds by Jerez saw Marquez as the pace-setter, then not winning but settling rostrums paid dividends – a treble of second places at Mugello, Barcelona and Assen topped by a win at Sachsenring saw him stretch clear of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo. His next win would have to wait until Aragon and once Rossi and Lorenzo fell at Motegi he strode to a third MotoGP world title with victory on Honda's home turf. Whilst perhaps not as spectacular as his first MotoGP world titles, they were certainly his most intelligent…


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Rossi, French MotoGP 2016

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Joan Williams

December 31, 2016 1:08 PM

So glad, and thanks for making Marc top of the list. Not many people realise the struggles he had with the bike, and also with himself. He found it hard settling for fourth in some races, but it was points instead of a DNF.

Cadweller

December 31, 2016 10:41 PM

Excellent choice for Number One. With the attention on the rise of Vinhales, Stay-or-go Lorenzo, resurgent Rossi and crasher-winner Crutchlow, Marquez methodically and coolly went about the business of overcoming, arquably, the worst factory package. I think he will win more titles, but this is the one that marks him for future All Time Great status.



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