Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year: 9. James Ellison

Nationality: British Team: SMT Bike: Honda CBR1000RR Wins: 0 Podiums: 1 Championship points: 79 Championship position: 16th (part-season)

When the 2011 British Superbike Championship got underway in earnest at Brands Hatch, there was one notable omission from the grid - James Ellison.

Switching career paths to the World Supersport Championship, Ellison's absence was certainly a shame for his legion of fans, who felt 2011 would be the year he steps up to a title challenge.

Nonetheless, with his WSS endeavour not going entirely to plan - though it would perk up over the second-half of that season -, Ellison embarked on a BSB comeback mid-season as the replacement for the out-of-favour Dan Linfoot at SMT Honda.

Though his return with a wholly privateer team was unlikely to result in victories from the off, not least because he was switching between Superbike and Supersport machinery week-in, week-out at one stage, Ellison gave SMT a fine run of top ten finishes in the final portion of the season.

However, it is Ellison's performance at the final round that arguably warrants his ninth place in the 'BSB Rider of the Year' vote, the Kendal rider turning in an excellent effort to score a third, fourth and fifth in the three races.

Giving SMT some useful airtime as he diced with title protagonists Tommy Hill and John Hopkins, Ellison's run to third place marked the team's first-ever BSB podium, a fine present for one of the series' stalwart privateer outfits.

Not that Ellison is planning a return to BSB in 2012, however, as he has been tapped by Paul Bird Motorsport to lead its effort in MotoGP riding its CRT prototype. A bold new challenge for Ellison, at least he has shown he is still a reckoned force at BSB level should he choose to return again...

Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2010: 6th Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2009: 3rd Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2008: 3rd

Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2011:

10. Glen Richards