Year in review: New champs in top gear

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany is lifted by his team after sealing the Formula One drivers' championship.
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany is lifted by his team after sealing the Formula One drivers' championship. Kamran Jebreili

LIKE his father, Nico Rosberg achieved the ultimate in world motorsport.

In a hard-fought battle with Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, Rosberg won the Formula One drivers' title 34 years after his dad, Keke, did the same.

While the British defending champion Hamilton won more races (10, including the last four, to Rosberg's nine), two retirements and starts from the back of the grid in China and Belgium cost him valuable points.

In the end it came down to a controversial final meeting in Abu Dhabi, where Hamilton won again while doing his best to ensure Rosberg finished outside the top three by slowing down the race pace and drawing the ire of team officials.

The German, however, still managed to finish second, enough for him to take out the crown before stunning the world two days later with his retirement.

Declaring he had achieved everything he wanted, Rosberg now aims to spend time with his family as Mercedes scrambles to find a replacement.

Price on the money

TOBY Price created Australian motorsport history in January as he conquered the toughest event in the world.

Travelling more than 9000km on gravel, dirt and sand, Price became the first Aussie to win the Dakar Rally and he did it on his KTM bike in South America.

Improving on his third from the year before, he became the first person to win at his second attempt. He was also the first non-European rider to win.

The story of his success is even more incredible when taking into account the crash in 2013 that almost left him a paraplegic after he suffered a broken neck.

Price will return to South America in January to defend his crown.

F1 drought broken

IN 2016 the Honey Badger returned with a vengeance to F1. An improved car and a hunger to improve on his dismal 2015 (when eighth in the drivers' championship) saw Daniel Ricciardo finish third.

Holding off a late challenge from his Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen in Malaysia, the West Australian, 27, won his first race since the Belgium Grand Prix in 2014.

It could have been so much better. Poor strategy in Spain and Monaco cost him two wins with another going begging in Singapore after making a late charge at Nico Rosberg.

But, overall, Ricciardo made seven podiums and finished all but one lap in the championship in a year applauded by rivals and the media.

Super Kiwi

TWENTY-five years after New Zealand's last champion, Jim Richards, Shane Van Gisbergen did something some of his heroes never got to do.

Moving to powerhouse Red Bull Racing during the off-season, the Kiwi delivered on his talent by taking out his first Supercars drivers' title.

Showing incredible consistency Van Gisbergen was able to beat his teammate Jamie Whincup after finishing 16 of the last 17 races in the top five.

He sealed the title in the final weekend of the season in Sydney - and delivered a trademark burnout to make the occasion.

In a big year for the 27-year-old he also won the Pirtek Endurance Cup with Frenchman Alexandre Premat and the Bathurst 12Hour with Jonathon Webb and Alvaro Perante.

Will back on top

HE MAY not have crossed the line first but for Will Davison it didn't matter.

Taking out this year's Bathurst 1000 with teammate Jonathon Webb, Davison won his second Peter Brock Trophy after winning with the Holden Racing Team in 2009.

Fighting off a late challenge from Red Bull driver Shane Van Gisbergen, Davison helped Tekno Autosport become the first one-car team to win the great race since 1993.

They got into the position to win after a dramatic scrap at The Chase involving Red Bull's Jamie Whincup, Garry Rogers Motorsport driver Scott McLaughlin and HRT's Garth Tander.

While both McLaughlin and Tander were put out of business, Whincup received a time penalty for triggering the incident. He crossed the line first but was unable to win his fifth Bathurst crown.

If the shoey fits

THANKS to Australia it became popular for drivers to pull a "shoey” on the podium after a race.

First performed by V8 Ute driver Ryal Harris in Perth last year, it was then replicated by David Reynolds after he won the Supercars round in Darwin later in the season.

In 2016 it went global, thanks to Aussie "exports” Jack Miller and Daniel Ricciardo.

Winning his first ever race in MotoGP in Holland, Miller pulled off a shoey as he celebrated in style.

Ricciardo then got the tradition into mainstream media as he conned other drivers and celebrities, including Hollywood star Gerard Butler, into it.

It's Miller time

IN ONE race this season Australian Jack Miller showed us why he belongs in the premier class of motorcycle racing.

Racing in atrocious conditions, the Townsville kid won his first ever MotoGP race in the Netherlands.

Riding brilliantly from 18th to first he also survived a red flag, which actually assisted the Australian as he rode past Spaniard Marc Marquez to win.

It was the first Australian win in the sport since 2012 and he was part of the first independent team to win in the category since 2006.

For the title,

no one got close to the brilliant Marquez, however.

The Spaniard wrapped up the title three rounds from the end, at his manufacturer Honda's home in Motegi.

While the title wasn't close, all up nine riders won races with Suzuki winning its first since 2007.

Webber retires

AUSTRALIA'S best Formula One driver over the past 30 years, with nine wins in 215 races, Mark Webber left competitive driving all together after three years with Porsche in the World Endurance Championship.

While he didn't achieve a 24 hours of Le Mans win, Webber still won his first international endurance title when he won the crown last year with Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley.

He was a part of eight wins for the German brand in the past two seasons.

Webber won't be lost to motorsport entirely as he takes up an ambassador role with Porsche.

Taylor made

CREATING history in the Australian Rally Championship, Molly Taylor became the first female to reach the top as a driver.

In a dramatic three-way battle with Simon Evans and Harry Bates at the final event in Coffs Harbour, Taylor capitalised on a penalty on the final day to win the title by two points in her Subaru WRX.

In doing so, she also claimed the first title for the manufacturer since 2005 and followed in the same footsteps of her mother Coral, who won three titles as a co-driver with Neil Bates in the 1990s.

In a fantastic year for women in motorsport, Leanne Tander became the first female driver to win a national racing circuit title in Formula Ford.

And, finally, the Supergirls, Renee Gracie and Simona De Silvestro, finished a commendable 14th in their second appearance at the Bathurst 1000 in a Nissan.

Topics:  daniel ricciardo jack miller mark webber molly taylor nico rosberg shane van gisbergen toby price will davison year in review

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