1. Max Biaggi – Aprilia Alitalia (373 points): A+
If Max Biaggi's reputation as a World Superbike rider needed assuring, then his performance on the Aprilia RSV-4 this season confirms him as one of the world's foremost motorcycling riders. With no talk of feuds with a certain Italian rival to overshadow his achievements, Biaggi's obvious affinity with Aprilia and the RSV-4 has been fundamental to his success. Nine wins, no DNFs and a first title world title in 13 years coming up – you can't expect better than that.
2. Leon Haslam – Suzuki Alstare (313 points): A
Having begun his season with an A+ first WSBK win at Phillip Island, Haslam's title tilt has stuttered since then with a mid-season lull. In his defence, Haslam has just one DNF to his name and only a small number of fairly average results, but it is a measure of Max Biaggi's performance this season that it looks like his title hopes have slipped away. Nonetheless, having been quietly discounted pre-season, Haslam's performance on the formerly unfancied Suzuki deserves a pass with distinction here.
3. Jonathan Rea – Ten Kate Honda (243 points): A-
One of the title favourites heading into the season, while Jonathan Rea is currently a fine third in the standings, getting there has certainly been a rocky process. Highs include his double Assen success and his somewhat surprising run to victory at Brno, but it is peppered with nondescript performances at Misano and Miller Motorsports Park. Even so, there is the impression that Rea is out-riding the Ten Kate Honda, making his winning performances potentially more significant than they first appear. Of course, neither he nor the team – at the moment at least - would admit that he is out-riding the bike, but time will surely tell.
4. Carlos Checa – Althea Ducati (204 points): A
The surprise package of the season? While we shouldn't be shocked that Carlos Checa – a race winner at MotoGP and WSBK level – is up at the front, the way in which he has reminded everyone of his talents has been as remarkable as it is welcome. After two good – but somewhat overshadowed – seasons with Honda, Checa's switch to Althea Ducati was barely met with anything more than passing recognition. A win at the opener soon got people sitting up to take notice though, Checa proceeding to follow it up with a series of consistently strong performances on the 1198. A few complaints about being down on power aside, Checa has got his head down and embarrassed the factory Ducati riders. A Xerox berth could be available in 2011, but the ever-smiling, polite Spaniard seems more concerned about his happiness than conforming to expectations, which means Althea could secure another coup in retaining him…
5. Cal Crutchlow – Yamaha Sterilgarda (188 points): B+
Had this 'report' come prior to his double victory at Silverstone, Cal Crutchlow could have been facing a 'B' here – or rather it would have been an A+ for his Saturday efforts, but a C for Sunday… Luckily for him, his two superb victories on home ground have elevated his reputation – and his position in the standings – at just the right time. He needed the result too, because if Crutchlow is MotoGP bound in 2011, he has to get there on the back of a good WSBK season. The wins aside, Crutchlow hasn't enjoyed the perfect season. There have been mistakes of his own doing, although the general consensus is that the R1 is not progressing as fast as its main rivals. Even so, Silverstone represented the kind of form expected of the reigning Supersport champion, so it wouldn't take much to turn that B+ into an A before the year is out.
6. James Toseland – Yamaha Sterilgarda (179 points): B-
Having gone into the season eyeing up a third World Superbike title with three different manufacturers, James Toseland's season has been modest to say the least. Flashes of brilliance, such as his podiums at Valencia, Assen and Monza are indicative of Toseland's strong abilities on a Superbike, a fact his MotoGP tenure almost erased, but at the same time, he has struggled to put together one outstanding performance. Indeed, while Toseland – who is the highest classified rider now not to win a race this year - was leading Crutchlow until very recently, his team-mate's headline-grabbing performances over a single lap would have suggested otherwise. In isolation, it's been a solid return for Toseland, but given the weight of expectation on him, it hasn't been especially memorable either.
7. Noriyuki Haga – Ducati Xerox (177 points): C
Before the season started, we asked you who you thought would win the 2010 World Superbike title – 31 per cent of you said Noriyuki Haga. It certainly wasn't a wild prediction having come so close in 2009 with Ducati Xerox, but it only serves to further emphasis just how disappointing the Japanese rider has been in 2010. While he has won a race this year, at Valencia, Haga has struggled in qualifying and hasn't been able to show the kind of legendary form that often sees him able to scale back up the order. While consistent scoring has kept Haga in the relative hunt, the fact he isn't even top Ducati is a bitter blow.
8. Leon Camier – Aprilia Alitalia (164 points): A-
While Ben Spies ripped up the rule book on how rookies are supposed to fare in World Superbikes, Leon Camier can still be very satisfied with how he has acquitted himself to life on the international stage. Coming off the back of his record-breaking British Superbike title and a few 'toe in the water' outings with Aprilia, Camier has become a regular sight towards the front in WSBK this year. The most exciting thing, however, is that he arguably has a lot more to come. Qualifying has been a downfall, but it has served to showcase Camier's talents over a race distance following some charging rides up the order – Silverstone being a case point -, while a few DNFs from good positions (Valencia and Assen) should see him higher than eighth at this stage in the season. Rookie errors but obvious pace, once the former is eradicated - and they will be -, Camier will be an exciting prospect…
9. Michel Fabrizio – Ducati Xerox (160 points): C
Along with Noriyuki Haga, Michel Fabrizio was anticipated to be a title challenger in 2010, but while the Italian has probably shown more flashes of speed than his team-mate, errors and problems have consigned him to a lowly position inside the top ten. Inconsistent to say the least, Fabrizio's form fluctuates during a weekend, let alone round-by-round, but at least he has won a race this season. Tipped to take the fight to Haga at least, Fabrizio's talent is certainly evident – but not so much when it matters…
10. Troy Corser – BMW Motorrad (155 points): B+
Tenth position in the standings at this current stage doesn't necessarily do Troy Corser's efforts on the BMW much justice. While we would stop short of calling Corser a revelation this season – he is a former champion after all -, the rate of improvement on the S1000RR has been very impressive. Corser has helped turn BMW into an exciting prospect, the first podium at Monza and pole position at Misano enabling the manufacturer to strike them off their 'to-do list' slightly earlier than planned. The first win is clearly close, but there is the impression it won't be as easy to achieve. Corser has shown front running pace, but has struggled to maintain over more than 80 per cent distance – some cry bike issues, some cry rider issues, but it is clear that BMW would not be where they are right now had they not snapped up the Australian to lead their charge.
11. Sylvain Guintoli – Suzuki Alstare (151 points): B
While he may have credits in MotoGP, Sylvain Guintoli came into the 2010 season as comfortably the least experience Superbike rider in a factory team. His performance at the opening round in Australia certainly belied that fact, though it has taken the Frenchman a while to recreate those performances. Guintoli's season has taken very specific route – often a slow start to the beginning of a weekend before invariably putting in strong performances in qualifying and the races. It has helped him score in every race this season, even if it hasn't quite equated to a podium finish. Still, having had just half a season of Superbike racing under his belt, Guintoli has shown he deserves to be in WSBK and he remains a welcome addition to the grid. Definitely more to come.
Part 2 to follow