1st – Sylvain Guintoli
Average poll score out of ten: 8.6
Sylvain Guintoli has taken a lot of criticism for his approach to World Superbike racing in recent times. Even coming into the 2014 final round showdown when he was well in contention for the title, the Frenchman was still being questioned on whether he had the passion or aggressiveness to make the difference in a bar-to-bar, head-to-head…
Two wins in Qatar later and Guintoli was the rider holding aloft the 2014 WSBK title trophy under the starry skies having successfully overturned the deficit to Tom Sykes with a display of exemplary riding that, on this day alone, proved him as the deserving victor.
In defence of those aforementioned critics, Guintoli's headline success in 2014 had been slightly fortuitous coming into the Qatar finale, his wins in Phillip Island and Assen achieved in curtailed races, while his success at Magny-Cours had more to do with co-operation from team-mate Marco Melandri.
These are simply details though because the greater picture of Guintoli's 2014 WSBK campaign was one of sheer consistency and striving for every available point. Having now finished all-but-one of the last 58 WSBK races inside the top ten, Guintoli knows exactly what it takes to keep the digits ticking over when it matters.
Indeed, even when the Frenchman was down on his luck – and his arse - in Assen and Portimao, each time he picked himself and his battered bike up to claw back positions, rather than admit defeat. He wouldn't know then, but those recovery rides to ninth and seventh place ultimately made the difference in his title quest.
As a rider who formed a title challenge in 2013 with just a single win to his name, Guintoli was always better placed to take the fight to an increasingly spooked Sykes in Qatar, whilst it helped that the Losail circuit was probably better suited to the RSV4 than the ZX-10R.
Nonetheless, if the pressure was on, it didn't show… if anything, Guintoli never looked more relaxed than he did in Qatar and the result was two dominant, comprehensive and flawless wins – champion's rides if you will.
With Aprilia diverting its attention to MotoGP, Guintoli heads to Honda for 2015, prompting many to suggest he has capitalised on his best chance of title glory or the time being… but who is not to say he has more tricks to pull from his sleeve when it matters?
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2013:
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2012:
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2011:
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2010:
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2009:
Do you agree the poll results? If not, why not? Leave your comments below...
WSBK Rider of the Year poll results so far
2. Jonathan Rea
3. Tom Sykes
4. Marco Melandri
5. Chaz Davies
6. Davide Giugliano
7. Loris Baz
8. Leon Camier
9. David Salom
10. Alex Lowes
About the vote:
Rather than repeat the Riders' World Championship standings, the WSBK Rider of the Year poll asks viewers to take into account factors such as machinery, performance relative to a team-mate, riding style, experience, injuries, progress and personality just as much as race results.
Over 40,000 votes were cast for the 2014 Crash.net
WSBK Rider of the Year poll, where viewers awarded each of the top twenty from this year's WSBK standings with a mark out of ten.