5th – Michael van der Mark
Average poll score out of ten: 7.2
Following his dominant run to the 2014 World Supersport Championship title, Michael van der Mark found himself very much under the spotlight – and everyone's radar – coming into 2015 as he prepared to make his Superbike debut with Honda.
Upgraded from a Ten Kate contract to a prestigious Honda deal, with more influential people to impress on a bike that – on the evidence of Jonathan Rea, Syylvain Guintoli and Leon Haslam – was 'tricky' at best, career-harming at worst, van der Mark would have been forgiven for feeling under pressure.
And yet, he was anything but. Far beyond his mellow outward demeanour, van der Mark appeared determined to stamp his mark on the Superbike fraternity from the word go and came out fighting with a boisterous display in Australia.
It was an attitude that at least made him exciting to watch and though it wasn't always the quickest way around a circuit in clean air – and didn't endear him to rivals or stewards at times -, in the heat of battle the aggression helped negate the bike's shortcomings.
Indeed, by being the antithesis of Guintoli's smoother, calmer style, it was the rookie that turned in the better peak results, his double podium on home soil at Assen matched by another in Jerez, but it also resulted in more errors that would ultimately leave him a fairly lonely seventh overall in the standings.
To his credit, by the end of the season, that over exertion had been toned down to something more consistent, which on a more dependable Kawasaki or Aprilia probably would have made him a race winner in 2015.
Indeed, by viewing van der Mark's performance in the context of other Honda riders over the years, not least his championship winning team-mate, and this was a rookie season to be proud of.
Previous WSBK Poll results for Michael van der Mark
WSBK Rider of the Year 2014:
Do you agree the poll results? If not, why not? Leave your comments below...
6. Leon Haslam
7. Alex Lowes
8. Leon Camier
9. Davide Giugliano
10. Sylvain Guintoli
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 50,000 votes were cast for the 2015 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.