Aprilia Racing has hailed Max Biaggi's efforts during its return to World Superbike competition in 2009, saying his input was fundamental to the team's surprise success this year.

The Italian manufacturer returned to the production-based series this season for the first time since 2002, luring Biaggi from Sterilgarda Ducati and MotoGP exile Shinya Nakano to the team.

Despite indifferent form in testing leading up to the season, Biaggi was immediately on the pace at the opening round in Australia before putting the bike on the podium at the very next event in Qatar.

Although a lack of data around most of the circuits hampered Biaggi's form at times, the Italian finished outside the points on just two occasions during the whole of 2009. Furthermore, Biaggi was the second highest scoring rider of all during the latter half of the year.

With victory coming at Brno, plus an impressive total of 17 top five finishes, Aprilia's technical director Gigi Dall'Igna paid tribute to Biaggi's determination throughout the season.

"It [Biaggi's input] was fundamental," he said. "Max's season was positive and his second half of the championship was excellent. I'd like to point out that from Donington onwards only Ben Spies scored more points than Max.

"But what really impressed me was his aggressiveness. He took to the track with the desire to win, attacking on every occasion. His pass on Fabrizio at Imola was superb, and so was his win at Brno, the first for the RSV4."

Although Biaggi's team-mate at Aprilia in 2010 is yet to be confirmed, Dall'lgna is cautiously plotting a title tilt next season.

"Next year it's going to be a tough championship, with lots of riders capable of winning and a technical level that will surely be superior. We will start off untroubled, trying to tackle race after race in the best possible way, in the knowledge that we can be one of the key players."

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