Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2011: 2. Tommy Hill

Nationality: British Team: Swan Racing Bike: Yamaha YZF-R1 Wins: 7 Podiums: 16 Championship points: 647 (Showdown) Championship position: 1st

To win the British Superbike Championship is an immense achievement, but to win by a matter on centimetres has put Tommy Hill in the history books...

Few will forget the dramatic last lap tussle that took the 2011 MCE British Superbike Championship to the wire - almost literally -, but it was the final act of an entertaining title fight that, for Hill especially, came after a series of twists and turns.

Having come close in 2010 on a Suzuki, Hill was targeting glory aboard the Swan Yamaha in 2011 and initial signs in testing suggested he was destined to be a title contender. However, a shoulder injury in the second round at Oulton Park threatened to derail those hopes, Hill having to place his faith in the 'Showdown' points' system to get him back into the title challenge as he spent three events in recovery.

Fortunately for him, a burst of excellent mid-season form would revive Hill's hopes, easing him into the 'Showdown' and putting him almost on a par with Shane Byrne and Hopkins even before the points were equalised.

Of course, the following six races were the prelude to that final race, and Hill - who didn't win any of the Showdown events - can perhaps count himself lucky that mechanical gremlins on Hopkins's part were probably the most determining factor in his title win, but it's worth noting that, with seven race victories in total, Hill was the 'winningest' BSB rider of 2011.

Naturally, the result was heart-breaking for Hopkins, but Hill was by no means a less popular winner. Indeed, it's easy to forget that the 26-year-old has had his own career ups and downs, including injuries, illnesses and truncated attempts on the world stage. With this in mind, his BSB title win is a just reward for the determination he has shown over the years.

Indeed, having come on a long way since his ill-fated part-season with Althea Honda in the World Superbike Championship, it would be good to see Hill competing on the international stage again in 2012 - not least to renew his rivalry with Hopkins -, but for the time being it seems he will be embarking on an arguably even tougher task - defending his title...

Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2010: 2nd Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2009: 7th Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2008: N/A

Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2011:

3. Shane Byrne 4. Michael Laverty 5. Michael Rutter 6. Jon Kirkham 7. Graeme Gowland 8. Josh Brookes 9. James Ellison 10. Glen Richards