Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2011: 9. Max Biaggi

Nationality: Italian Team: Aprilia Alitalia Bike: Aprilia RSV-4 Wins: 2 Podiums: 12 Championship points: 303 Championship position: 3rd

Twelve months ago it was difficult to imagine who would challenge Max Biaggi heading into 2011 following his marvellous title-winning campaign, but the speed of Carlos Checa out of the blocks at Phillip Island caught the Italian by surprise more than anyone.

Indeed, having romped to the World Superbike title in 2010, Biaggi had high hopes of repeating that feat again in 2011, but his defence would ultimately be scuppered by curious errors and injury.

Tipped onto the back foot, Biaggi certainly didn't aid his cause with a catalogue of errors during the second round at Donington Park, beginning with his public bust-up with Marco Melandri, a series of tumbles and his disqualification for failing to heed a drive-through penalty. Having worked hard on his image as a cool, collected and composed rider in 2010, Biaggi went a long way to undoing a lot of his hard work in just one weekend at Donington Park...

Fortunately for him, he collected himself to claim a string of podium finishes over the coming races, even if his controversial drive-through penalty at Monza prevented him from scaling the heights of the podium until he won at Motorland Aragon.

A second win followed at Brno, but his campaign would come to an abrupt end at the Nurburgring when a foot injury, sustained when he was struck by a piece of debris, ruled him out until the final events.

On paper, Biaggi enjoyed a decent season, managing 12 podiums in 20 races and clinging onto third in the standings, despite missing six races. However, Biaggi looked evidently under pressure in 2011, not only to defend his title, but to have an answer to Checa, as well as fight for Italian honour with Melandri, as reflected in your decision to place him as your ninth top WSBK rider of the year.

Gaining a new team-mate in Eugene Laverty for 2012, Biaggi faces a new kind of pressure, but has vowed to come back stronger next year and reclaim his crown.
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2010: 2nd Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2009: 3rd Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2008: 8th's WSBK Rider of the Year 2011:
9. Max Biaggi
10. Noriyuki Haga

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