3rd – Tom Sykes
Average poll score out of ten: 7.4
Kawasaki Racing Team
Having seen his 2014 World Superbike title bid fall by the wayside after coming off second-best in a tense final round showdown, Tom Sykes came into 2015 under pressure to not only make amends but cling onto his #1 status in the team with the arrival of Jonathan Rea.
Indeed, following his public falling out with erstwhile team-mate Loris Baz, all eyes were on Sykes to see how he would fare up against a more experienced rider on equal machinery, but while pre-season testing suggested he would indeed have his work cut out, in race conditions the reality was somewhat more conclusive.
With Rea winning out of the box, Sykes was limited to just a pair of podiums from the first four rounds of the season, forcing him onto a back foot he would struggle to ever recover from.
According to Sykes, the changes in the regulations were affecting his comfort and confidence on the ZX-10R, a claim arguably given credence by the fact he could only manage a single pole position – a known strength of his - from the opening five rounds.
Though a title challenge was seemingly out of the question as the unflappable Rea forged clear, Sykes mounted a mid-season comeback of sorts as he became happier with the bike, his dominant double wins at Donington Park and another at Misano doing their bit to ensure Kawasaki of its first ever WSBK constructors' crown.
However, the limitations in Sykes' performances would be made all the more apparent when viewed against the achievements of Rea. Fast over a single lap, but comparatively flaccid in bar-to-bar combat, Sykes rarely had an answer to Rea at any point in the season, with the eventual 149 point deficit to his title-winning team-mate very indicative of this.
Race craft aside though, Sykes remains one of World Superbikes' most formidable contenders, while the new ZX-10R's launch gives him a golden opportunity now to claw back some of that ground from Rea in 2016.
Previous WSBK Poll results for Tom Sykes
WSBK Rider of the Year 2014:
WSBK Rider of the Year 2013:
WSBK Rider of the Year 2012:
WSBK Rider of the Year 2011:
WSBK Rider of the Year 2010:
WSBK Rider of the Year 2009:
Do you agree the poll results? If not, why not? Leave your comments below...
4. Jordi Torres
5. Michael van der Mark
6. Leon Haslam
7. Alex Lowes
8. Davide Giugliano
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.