New Zealand's golden era of motorsport continued in 2017 with Kiwi drivers setting the standard in numerous categories around the world.
We look at the top 10 drivers for the calendar year. So strong was this year's list that we couldn't find room for 2016 Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen, WRC star Hayden Paddon or motocross rider Courtney Duncan, who had a tremendouos year. Impressive Porsche Carerra Cup racer Jaxon Evans and drift stars Mad Mike Whiddett and Cole Armstrong also missed out while Mitch Evans looks set for a bigger year in Formula E in 2018 with his Panasonic Jaguar Racing outfit much more competitive. Motorcylist Avalon Biddle also missed out on a spot in the top 10 despite competing at a very high level.
10. Fabian Coulthard
Coulthard had his best season to date in the Supercars Championship, finishing the year in third place. He had looked a serious chance of winning a maiden title before tough round on the Gold Coast and a crash at Pukekohe ruined any chance of that happening. Still, the Shell V-Power racer won four races in 2017 and helped his team to the team's championship.
9. Andrew Hawkeswood
The veteran Kiwi rally driver won his maiden New Zealand championship by finishing third in the season-ending Rally New Zealand in November. Although he didn't win any of the six events this year his consistent run saw him secure the title. Once he took the championship lead the Mazda AP4 driver produced a smart drive at both Rally Waitomo and Rally New Zealand to maintain the championship lead.
8. Nick Cassidy
The former Toyota Racing Series champion raced the Super GT and Super Formula series in Japan this year. The Lexus factory driver was crowned champion in the Super GT category – Japan's equivalent of Supercars – with a couple of race wins and four podiums helping him win. He was 10th in the single-seater Super Formula championship.
7. Richie Stanaway
The former GP2 and GP3 racer enjoyed another strong showing as a co-driver in the Supercars Championship. He was terrific at the Sandown 500 as he and Cam Waters took the chequered flag – both drivers maiden Supercars win. Stanaway was impressive again at Bathurst and Gold Coast and was announced as a fulltime driver with Prodrive Racing Ford in 2018.
6. Marcus Armstrong
The teenager made a name for himself with some impressive races in the Toyota Racing Series before heading off to Europe where he was part of the Ferrari Young Driver Academy. He narrowly missed out on winning the German Formula 4 championship but claimed the Italian championship instead. He signed on to race Formula 3 with leading team Prema in 2018 and will begin the year as the favourite to win the Toyota Racing Series.
5. Michael Pickens
The Auckland speedway racer enjoyed a stunning year in 2017 winning the national midget title while also competing strongly in the sprint car championship. He went to the USA where he enjoyed an impressive two-week stretch competing in Indiana and Illinois before returning to New Zealand where he set up his own midget team. He had his 100th race win at Western Springs during 2017.
4. Scott Dixon
The veteran Chip Ganassi Indycar driver was a mark of consistency once again in 2017. He was in the championship battle at the season-ending race at Sonoma but ended up finishing a narrow third. But for being taken out a couple of times, including a horror accident at the Indianapolis 500, Dixon could well have added a fifth crown. He moved to 41 career wins during the year to sit fourth all-time.
3. Scott McLaughlin
Scott McLaughlin really was the driver of the Supercars Championship in 2017 but sadly he doesn't have the title trophy to show for it. McLaughlin was the dominant driver – winning eight times this year as well as setting the single-season pole position record. He blitzed the lap record at Bathurst and looked set to win a maiden championship before things unraveled during the final race of the year on the streets of Newcastle.
2. Earl Bamber
Alongside childhood friend Hartley and German Timo Bernhard, Bamber secured his second Le Mans 24 Hour win in June with the factory Porsche team. Despite the mid-season announcement that Porsche would end its LMP1 program at the end of the year, Bamber and co went on to win the World Endurance Championship and sign off in style. Bamber has confirmed he will compete with Porsche in North American next year as well as serving as co-driver for Shane van Gisbergen in Supercars.
1. Brendon Hartley
It is no great surprise that the ninth New Zealander to have competed in Formula 1 tops our list of the best drivers this year. It has been a career year for the 28-year-old Hartley, who won the Le Mans 24 Hour race on his way to claiming a World Endurance Championship for the second time. Then in October Hartley was given the chance to drive in Formula 1 with Toro Rosso. He contested the final four Grands Prix of the year before signing a new deal with the team for 2018.