Max Biaggi says the dramatic circumstances that led to him winning the 2012 World Superbike Championship by the slenderest of margins makes his sixth world title taste all the 'sweeter'.
A season of high-drama from start-to-finish, though Biaggi has never strayed outside the top two throughout this year's title battle, the rapid ascension of Tom Sykes in the run up to the final round at Magny-Cours set the stage for an exciting last round showdown.
As it happens, few could have predicted just how tense the final round would be, Biaggi's crash in the first race and Sykes's third place finish seeing the Kawasaki man move to within 14.5 points with just 23 laps to decide the outcome.
With Sykes doing his utmost out front to score the win he required to keep the pressure on Biaggi, the Italian held his nerve to sneak the fifth place finish he needed to secure the title by a mere 0.5 points.
His second WSBK title, and sixth world championship success, 41-year-old Biaggi was beside himself with delight after a season that saw him adopt a fairly conservative approach to his racing, one that arguably led to him scoring the half point he needed to keep Sykes at bay.
“This is the fourth world championship out of six that I've won in the last race,” Biaggi, who won five races on the way to the title, said. “I guess I must like a difficult challenge! The 2012 season was tight to say the least: we started off well winning at Phillip Island after completely revamping my team, but we also had some difficult moments. We definitely worked for the title and maybe that's why it's an even sweeter victory.
“I'd like to thank the Team, Aprilia and Piaggio Group, from president Colaninno to the last worker because my success is just the tip of a great Italian company's work. I would also like to thank my family, my girlfriend Eleonora and my two children, as well as the always present Marino Laghi.”
Also helping Aprilia secure a second manufacturers' crown, Biaggi's plans for the 2013 season remain unconfirmed, with rumours split between him staying on for another year and retiring on a high.