Five Kiwis feature in 2022’s top 50 drivers according to the annual list put together by renowned UK motorsport publisher Auto Sport.
Shane van Gisbergen is the highest ranked of those in 10th place, whilst Mitch Evans sits a very respectable 12th. Scott Dixon is ranked 17th, ahead of Brendon Hartley in 22nd and Scott McLaughlin in 28th.
Formula 1 World Champion Max Verstappen is unsurprisingly in top spot, followed by rival Charles Leclerc in second and youngest-ever WRC victor Kalle Rovanpera in third.
Van Gisbergen’s rank of 10th is extremely commendable following his massive year which saw him break the record for the most victories in a Supercars season with 21.
His success didn’t stop there, the Kiwi finishing on the podium in Rally New Zealand’s WRC2 class and winning two races of Australia’s edition of the GT World Challenge.
Throw in a Bathurst 1000 victory, a fifth-in-class finish in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and a Bathurst 12 Hour podium then it’s completely understandable why the Kiwi sits inside the world’s top 10 drivers.
He’s closely followed by compatriot Evans, only NASCAR Cup winner Joey Logano splitting the pair.
The Aucklander drove a superb Formula E campaign to narrowly miss out on the title to Stoffel Vandoorne, who’s ranked sixth.
Evans picked up four race victories throughout the year and was in championship contention until the very last race of the season.
Dixon is never a shock inclusion in these lists, the Kiwi great’s racing talent continuing to shine through even against a field of younger rivals.
The six-time IndyCar Championship winner enjoyed another successful campaign, finishing third in the standings and had a chance to claim the title right until the final race.
Instead it was Australian Will Power who won a well-deserved championship over Josef Newgarden.
In addition to his incredible IndyCar record, Dixon also qualified on pole for the Indy 500 and enjoyed moderate enduro success in the form of seventh in the 24 Hours of Daytona and fourth in Petit Le Mans.
Hartley is the fourth best Kiwi on the list following on from his World Endurance Championship title which included victory in the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Man.
It was Hartley’s third 24 Hour of Le Mans victory from his last four attempts, this time the win coming with Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa for Toyota Gazoo Racing.
That trio also won the 6 Hours of Fuji and never finished outside the top two of any event, the exception being a DNF in the 6 Hours of Spa.
Finally, McLaughlin rounds out our New Zealand contingent featured in the list with 28th position.
Calling 2022 a breakthrough year for the Kiwi would probably be unjust, the former Supercars champion establishing himself on the IndyCar grid in just his second season.
He finished fourth in that championship, claiming three wins along the way, including the season opener on the Streets of St. Petersburg as well as victories in Mid-Ohio and Portland.
The 29-year-old has remained grounded despite his success, maintaining a presence in the New Zealand and Australian scene through a broadcast cameo in Adelaide and recent meet-and-greet at Kartsport Hamilton.
All five Kiwis ranked inside the top 30 out-performed the likes of F1 stars Valtteri Bottas, Alex Albon and Kevin Magnussen, F2 winner Felipe Drugovich and DTM winner Sheldon van der Linde.
Several Kiwis are unlucky not to make the cut, including Nick Cassidy who enjoyed mixed success in the WEC, DTM, Formula E and the Nurburgring Endurance Series.
Earl Bamber is also a notable name missing despite a strong season in IMSA, as are the F2 duo of Marcus Armstrong and Liam Lawson who both claimed multiple victories in 2022.
Despite these omissions, New Zealand drivers still made up 10% of the prestigious list which emphasizes how much of a powerhouse our small nation has become on the global stage.
With an even bigger year ahead, there’s no doubt we’ll see more New Zealanders atop the podium in 2023.