Having ceded its World Superbike Champion status last season, Aprilia head into 2012 determined to wrest the crown back from the clutches of key rivals Ducati.

A potent blend of speed, controversy and injuries defined Max Biaggi's campaign in 2011, one that proved he is both difficult to beat on his day, but also prone to the odd costly error.

For 2012, Biaggi is noticeably confident that he will replicate his dominant 2010 title-winning season with more of the former, the Italian shrugging off rumours of retirement by insisting he is just as motivated as ever to get back onto the winners' podium.

Even so, he faces stiff competition, not only from his rivals, but also from within his own camp following Aprilia's decision to sign the highly-rated Eugene Laverty. The Irishman produced a star turn during his rookie WSBK season with Yamaha and has justly been rewarded with a plum ride for 2012 at Aprilia.

Aside from concerns over whether the notoriously wary Biaggi will attempt to exercise his 'No.1 status' with some influence on the manufacturer, Laverty has an excellent opportunity to flourish on the RSV4 and his performance in testing suggests he can already match his accomplished team-mate.

Of course, race day will say a lot about where Laverty is in relation to the Italian - and Biaggi is certainly better-known as a racer than a qualifier -, but many feel he is more than just a crafty bet for a title challenge. With this in mind, he can only hope that his injury during pre-season testing doesn't derail those aspirations before they have even started...

With PATA Racing defecting to Ducati for 2012, ParkinGO MTC has arrived in its place to assume Aprilia's customer duties with an RSV4 for World Supersport Champion Chaz Davies.

Both team and rider are certainly exciting additions to the WSBK grid following their dominant run to the WSS title together last year and Davies has been touted as the rookie to watch this season.

Last year's post-season testing as Davies got to grips with the RSV4 suggested good things ahead for the Welshman, though a slightly troubled winter period, during which ParkinGO lost some of its backing, has hampered preparations for the opening round.

Nonetheless, Davies stood out from the crowd in WSS by often punching well above his weight come race day and there is no reason to suggest this won't be apparent when the lights go out at Phillip Island later this week.