After 14 rounds, 28 races and a rollercoaster of emotions, Ben Spies has been crowned the World Superbike Champion for 2009.

An outstanding achievement for a man that, at one stage in the season, was 88 points adrift of long-time leader Noriyuki Haga, the American's triumph on his first attempt comes after a series of record-breaking feats that included 11 pole positions and 14 races wins.

Spies and Haga were a cut above the opposition this year, even if both suffered their fair share of bad luck. As it happens, Haga's fall in the first race at Portimao would prove to be the pivotal moment, the Japanese rider having to settle for runner-up in a season in which he led for almost its entirety.

74 points further back, Michel Fabrizio was relatively lonely third, but his rapid rate of improvement over 2008 was certainly evident this year, the Italian being increasingly touted for a title tilt in 2010 having re-signed for Ducati Xerox.

The battle for fourth was eventually decided in Max Biaggi's favour after Jonathan Rea cost himself the chance to edge his rival on the final lap of the season with an off that dropped him to third. Nonetheless, fifth in the standings is a great achievement for the rookie, who too is expected to be a front runner next season.

Despite failing to finish either race, Leon Haslam ended his outstanding year on the privateer Stiggy Honda in sixth, ahead of the factory machine of Carlos Checa. Shane Byrne's late flourish helped him vault past the crocked Tom Sykes for eighth, while Jakub Smrz ends his best season of racing with tenth in the overall standings for Guandalini Ducati.

Suzuki endured a disappointing year to miss the top ten, Yukio Kagayama its top representative in 12th, although Troy Corser will be pleased with 13th after a development season on the BMW. Kawasaki's top rider, Broc Parkes, ends up 18th in the standings with 51 points - nine less than he scored in three races at British Superbike level earlier this year.

In all, 42 riders would score points in 2009, up from 33 in 2008, while 52 riders would participate in at least one race. Five riders won races - Spies, Haga, Fabrizio, Rea and Biaggi -, but only four scored pole positions - Spies, Haga, Fabrizio and Smrz.

In total, 13 riders stood on the podium in 2009, the lowest full-time classified rider to do so being Yukio Kagayama, while the highest placed rider not to get on the rostrum is Sykes.

Having not fielded a single full-time rider in 2008, United Kingdom & Northern Ireland were the most successful nation in 2009, picking up a total of 976 points, followed by Japan (823), USA (489), Italy (447) and Spain (326).

Finally, the biggest improver between 2008 and 2009 was Fabrizio, finishing five places higher this year than he managed last season, while Corser suffered the biggest drop, from second to 13th by virtue of his year spent with the fledgling BMW outfit.

Final 2009 World Superbike Championship rider standings (Previous 2008 position in brackets)

1. (-) Ben Spies Yamaha WSB 462 2. (3) Noriyuki Haga Ducati Xerox 456 points 3. (8) Michel Fabrizio Ducati Xerox 382 4. (7) Max Biaggi Aprilia 319 5. (-) Jonathan Rea Ten Kate Honda 315 6. (22*) Leon Haslam Stiggy Honda 241 7. (4) Carlos Checa Ten Kate Honda 209 8. (-) Shane Byrne Sterilgarda Ducati 192 9. (21*) Tom Sykes Yamaha WSB 176 10. (13) Jakub Smrz Guandalini Ducati 169 11. (9) Ryuichi Kiyonari Ten Kate Honda 141 12. (11) Yukio Kagayama Suzuki Alstare 128 13. (2) Troy Corser BMW Alpha 96 14. (-) Shinya Nakano Aprilia 86 15. (16**) Regis Laconi DFX Ducati 77 16. (5**) Max Neukirchner Suzuki Alstare 75 17. (10) Ruben Xaus BMW Alpha 74 18. (-) Broc Parkes Kawasaki WSB 51 19. (-) Matthieu Lagrive Althea Honda 34 20. (-) Leon Camier Airwaves Yamaha/Aprilia 32 21. (6**) Fonsi Nieto Suzuki Alstare/DFX Ducati 22 22. (15**) Karl Muggeridge Celani Suzuki/Suzuki Alstare 21 23. (-) John Hopkins Stiggy Honda 17 24. (-) Matteo Baiocco Guandalini Ducati 17 25. (-) Marco Simoncelli Aprilia 16 26. (14**) Lorenzo Lanzi DFX Ducati 15 27. (12**) Gregorio Lavilla Guandalini Ducati 12 28. (20) Makoto Tamada Kawasaki WSB 12 29. (-) Luca Scassa Pedercini Kawasaki 11 30. (-) Jamie Hacking Kawasaki WSB 9 31. (25*) James Ellison Airwaves Yamaha 8 32. (-) Sheridan Morais Kawasaki WSB 8 33. (-) Simon Andrews MSS Colchester Kawasaki 6 24. (-) Sylvain Guintoli Suzuki Alstare 6 35. (-) Tommy Hill Althea Honda 6 36. (-) David Salom Pedercini Kawasaki 5 37. (28) David Checa Yamaha GMT 94 4 38. (17**) Roberto Rolfo Stiggy Honda 3 39. (-) Brendan Roberts Guandalini Ducati 3 40. (-) Vittorio Iannuzzo SCI Honda 2 41. (-) Jake Zemke Stiggy Honda 1 42. (-) Alessandro Polita Celani Suzuki 1

(*) Only completed part-season in 2008
(**) Only completed part-season in 2009

Final 2009 World Superbike Championship manufacturer standings (Previous 2008 position in brackets)

1. (1) Ducati 572 points 2. (2) Yamaha 505 3. (3) Honda 431 4. (-) Aprilia 329 5. (4) Suzuki 173 6. (-) BMW 141 7. (5) Kawasaki 76