Max Biaggi's reign as World Superbike Champion is almost at an end after it was confirmed he won't compete in his home round at Imola.

The Italian has been suffering with a fracture in his foot since the Nurburgring when he was struck by a mysterious piece of debris during free practice. Though he rode through the pain to qualify well, Biaggi would not line up for the races, losing him significant ground to series leader Carlos Checa.

However, while the Aprilia Alitalia rider has worked hard to regain fitness in time for Imola, a medical examination revealed the injury isn't healing as hoped, thus ruling him out of the event, while the next round at Magny-Cours just a week later is in doubt too.

Coming twelve months after his triumphant title win at the same circuit, Biaggi's withdrawal all but rules him out of the title reckoning, with Checa needing just five points at Imola to put any lingering hopes out of his reach.

"You cannot imagine how much I would like to keep my dream of fighting for the world title, but unfortunately sometimes, as with this injury, you have to deal with the harsh reality. I tried and tried in every way, but the fracture is still here, clipping my wings!

"Sometimes the laws of nature are cruel and insurmountable, and even a stubborn person like me is forced to give up. I thank my fans for the big support you have shown me these days. I wanted to try to be there, as usual to give my best."

Biaggi's Imola no-show, coupled to his doubts for Magny-Cours, means there is now a good chance for Eugene Laverty to snatch third in the overall standings, the Irishman 49 points adrift.