2023 was a year of dominance from Ducati across the world of motorbike racing, especially on the circuits and the roads of the North Coast of Northern Ireland.
It’s time to unveil our nominees in the Champion Rider of the Season and Road Racer of the Year categories in The Apex Motorsport awards.
Let’s start with the Champion Rider of the season, where with winner of the World Superbike, MotoGP and British Superbike Championships are nominated.
Álvaro Bautista (WorldSBK)
Alvaro Bautista is now a two-time World Superbike Champion, taking both titles since his return to the Ducati team in 2022.
With 27 race wins, 31 overall podiums, 4 pole positions and 23 fastest laps, he won the title by 76 points ahead of Toprak Razcotoglu.
It was a remarkable run of form, taking all bar one race victory from the start of the season to the Sprint Race at Donnington Park, that’s 15 wins from 16 races with only a retirement in Indonesia stopping the clean sweep
Francesco Bagnaia (MotoGP)
Francesco Bagnaia claimed his second MotoGP title in 2023, his second in a row with the Ducati Works team.
7 Grand Prix victories, with 15 overall podiums along with 7 pole positions was a very good season amongst a stacked grid of talent.
He finished on the podium on all but five races, two of which were retirements, one did not start and the other was a 16th place finish in Argentina where he crashed out but was able to re-join the race.
Tommy Bridewell (British Superbikes)
Tommy Bridewell ended the 2023 season as British Superbike Champion by only half a point to team-mate Glenn Irwin.
It was an incredible battle between the pair, but despite having fewer race wins than Iriwn, his podium finishes at the start of the season were crucial in securing the crown after Irwin went on a late charge.
A clean sweep at Snetterton would be the highlight of the season for Bridewell, along with picking up race victories at Oulton Park, Brands Hatch and Cadwell Park.
Let’s move on to the Road Racer of the Season nominees.
After narrowly missing out on the British Superbike Championship title by only half a point, Glenn Irwin took part in the North West 200 once against this season, taking both Superbike race wins to extend his winning run to eight NW200 Superbike wins in a row.
It would be the only road racing the 2022 Isle of Man TT fastest newcomer took part in after making the move back to Ducati for the BSB season.
It’s been a difficult few years for Michael Dunlop but he was back to his best at the Isle of Man TT in 2023 as he took four race victories to go one behind his uncle Joey Dunlop on the all time wins list.
With Wins in the Superbike, Supertwin and two in the Supersport classes, along with three other podiums at the Mountain Course capped off a strong year for the Ballymoney man.
He’s called the King of the Roads for a reason and the fearless Peter Hickman took another four race victories at the 2023 Isle of Man TT.
He is now in the top ten for most race wins and is expected to climb even higher in the next few years with only 13 wins separating Joey Dunlop at the top and Hickman in ninth.
Hickman also took victory in the all-important Senior TT to level with Michael Dunlop for race wins at the TT in 2023.
His season could have been even better if his team didn’t withdraw from the North West 200 in controversial circumstances over a disagrement regarding a breech of regulations.
Davy Todd is very quickly rising the ranks of the motorsport world after an impressive showing in 2023, especially at the North West 200.
He took two race victories in the Supersport class in a difficult field that included the likes of Richard Cooper, Peter Hickman, Dean Harrision, Alastair Seely and Michael Dunlop.
Todd also impressed in the Superbike class, finishing second in the first race.