1st - Valentino RossiAverage score out of ten: 9.3Team: Movistar YamahaBike: YZR-M1 (Factory)Wins: 2Podiums: 13Poles: 1Fastest Laps: 1Championship points: 295Championship position: 2nd out of 27

During his Ducati years, Valentino Rossi was voted just 10th and 11th in the Crash.net MotoGP Star of the Year polls. Despite a race-winning return to Yamaha, the Italian again failed to impress you last year - being voted sixth, behind even CRT rider Aleix Espargaro.

But the Italian's 2014 resurgence produced his best on-track results since a seventh MotoGP title in 2009 - and Rossi has made a similar revival in your Star of the Year vote, topping the list for the first time since that same season.

Undoubtedly the most popular rider on the MotoGP grid, that hadn't helped Rossi during the last three years of the poll vote.

Rossi's previous poll victories (2008 and 2009) both came after winning the world championship, which The Doctor didn't even come close to doing in 2014, instead finishing a distant runner-up to Marc Marquez.

So what did you see in Rossi this year that was missing in the recent past?

One factor was surely the magnitude of his improvement relative to last season. While Marquez was only expected to get better this year, Rossi - 14 years his senior - began the year unsure if he would even sign another MotoGP contract, after being comprehensively beaten for much of 2013.

Spurred on by a shock change of crew chief, the oldest rider on the grid (after Colin Edwards's mid-season retirement) more than doubled his podium tally relative to last year and racked up 58 more points.

To put that into perspective, Marquez scored 28 points more than last year on the way to his title defence. Jorge Lorenzo lost 67 points relative to last year and Dani Pedrosa minus 54 points. Although Rossi only scored two wins, he was runner-up on six further occasions.

Rossi's main weakness this season was in qualifying, with just three front row starts (including a first pole since 2010), but the Saturday struggles often made his race results more praiseworthy.

In pure riding terms, the record-breaking Marquez was the undisputed best. But this poll was about more than results and it seems that for many fans Rossi's performance was the surprise of the season.

Indeed, the level of surprise (good or bad) seems to have been a major factor throughout your Star of the Year voting.

While Marquez was expected to improve further after his brilliant rookie MotoGP title and Rossi surprised after three subdued seasons, much better was expected from the likes of Lorenzo and Pedrosa - leaving them much lower in the poll than their championship positions. By contrast, the likes of Andrea Dovizioso, Aleix Espargaro and Andrea Iannone surpassed predictions and were duly voted higher.

Rossi's poll win marks only the second time that the reigning world champion has been beaten in the MotoGP Star of the Year vote, the other occasion being Pedrosa over Lorenzo in 2012.

"It is incredible," Marquez said of Rossi's 2014 'comeback'. "35 years old is one thing, but for me the most important is that after two not so good years at Ducati, then come back in Yamaha and struggle a little bit last season, this year he has come back [to the front].

"It shows how strong he is as a rider, because after three years without good results it's difficult to come back. He came back really strong and for example in Malaysia, with 35 degree heat, he was pushing me until the last three laps. I respect him a lot. I always say I would like to be like him in the future but it will be really difficult!"

"I think the season from Valentino has a lot of unbelievable merits," added Rossi's team-mate Jorge Lorenzo. "After, as Marc said, three years not so good. Especially the two years at Ducati. Coming back so strong, improving his riding, working even more physically and also staying in the pit box and working a lot of hours to try to improve the setting on his bike."

Valentino Rossi in the Crash.net MotoGP Star of the Year pollMotoGP Star of the Year 2014: 1stMotoGP Star of the Year 2013: 6thMotoGP Star of the Year 2012: 11thMotoGP Star of the Year 2011: 10thMotoGP Star of the Year 2010: 3rdMotoGP Star of the Year 2009: 1stMotoGP Star of the Year 2008: 1st

Crash.net MotoGP Star of the Year - vote winners:2014: Valentino Rossi2013: Marc Marquez2012: Dani Pedrosa2011: Casey Stoner2010: Jorge Lorenzo2009: Valentino Rossi2008: Valentino Rossi

About the vote:
Rather than repeat the Riders' World Championship standings, the MotoGP Star 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 2014 Crash.net MotoGP Star of the Year poll, where viewers awarded each of this year's full-time participants - only Colin Edwards, who retired during the season, was not included - with a mark out of ten.

2014 MotoGP Star of the Year: Top 101st Valentino Rossi ITA Movistar Yamaha 9.32nd Marc Marquez SPA Repsol Honda 9.03rd Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati Team 7.04th Aleix Espargaro SPA Forward Yamaha 6.95th Andrea Iannone ITA Pramac Ducati 6.86th Jorge Lorenzo SPA Movistar Yamaha 6.77th Pol Espargaro SPA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 6.38th Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda 6.29th Scott Redding GBR Go&Fun Honda Gresini 6.110th Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 5.7

Full ranking featuring all 22 full-season riders to be revealed on December 26.

 

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