Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2011: 4. Michael Laverty

Nationality: British Team: Swan Yamaha Bike: Yamaha YZF-R1 Wins: 3 Podiums: 8 Best finish: 1st Championship points: 601 (Showdown) Championship position: 4th

Having made a successful return to the British Superbike Championship in 2010, Michael Laverty defected to Swan Yamaha for the 2011 season in an effort to challenge for the title on this occasion.

Considered a match for Tommy Hill in terms of speed, Laverty's title credentials didn't reveal themselves until the closing portion of the season once he had qualified for the 'Showdown'.

Indeed, prior to Cadwell Park - the final event before the three-round shootout -, Laverty had posted just a single win, in the wet at Thruxton, and just one further podium at Knockhill. Consistency ensured he remained a firm favourite to make it into the Showdown, but opinion was divided as to whether he was playing it safe or whether he was at his maximum.

His 1-2-3 at Cadwell Park served to reinforce the impression that he was building up to something bold, before his second place finish at Donington Park - ahead of Hill - added further weight to the suggestion that he could well be launching a late title charge.

In the end, his collision with Byrne in the second Donington Park race, which dropped him to 14th, left him with too much to do over the remaining two rounds, even if he did score another second at Silverstone and a win at the Brands Hatch finale.

Such late season form is indicative of Laverty's ability at this level, not least when you consider he is less experienced than many around him. With this in mind, his decision to join Honda Racing for 2012 should make him a firm favourite for next year's title...

Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2010: 5th Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2009: N/A Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2008: 9th

Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2011:

5. Michael Rutter 6. Jon Kirkham 7. Graeme Gowland 8. Josh Brookes 9. James Ellison 10. Glen Richards