That said, even though Sykes has notched up two more wins at Moscow and Portimao, the fairly substantial 30.5 point gap to Biaggi coming into the final round at Magny-Cours meant the advantage remained very much with the Italian rider.
What followed of course was a nail-biting climax to the season, Sykes's late title push almost carrying him all the way to what would have been a shock victory. In the end just half a point would make all the agonising difference…
Indeed, the miniscule margin for error is brought into perspective when you consider Sykes suffered just three DNFs over the course of the season, none of which were self-inflicted (two mechanical problems and being swiped out of a podium finish by Ayrton Badovini at Aragon). Add Sykes's half points at Monza and it's incredible to think how different things could have been…
Nonetheless, there is little denying that Sykes came of age in 2012, the potent combination of his faultless performances and Provec's efforts in turning the ZX-10R into a competitive package deserving considerable praise.
You certainly seem to agree as well, Sykes achieving a remarkable average 9.6 rating out of 10 in this poll – the highest average score we have seen.
Better yet, Sykes didn't even pout about missing the title by such a tiny margin and has instead channelled his emotions into an effort to come back even stronger in 2013.
Then again, there is little chance we will be considering Sykes and Kawasaki underdogs again anytime soon!
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2011:
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2010:
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2009:
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2008:
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2012:
2. Max Biaggi
3. Marco Melandri
4. Chaz Davies
5. Sylvain Guintoli