9. Loris Baz
Nationality: French Team: Kawasaki Racing Bike: Kawasaki ZX-10R Wins: 1 Podiums: 3 Championship points: 122 Championship position: 13th

An eye-catching part-season in the British Superbike Championship aside, though the decision to hand likeable youngster Loris Baz a full-factory Kawasaki for much of the 2012 World Superbike Championship was definitely popular, there were still ripples of surprise when he was picked to helm the race-winning bike.

Fast forward six months and not only has Baz proved any doubters wrong (this one included), but he has rightly earned himself a full-time ride with Kawasaki in 2013, not to mention a lofty status as a potential future champion.

Promoted in the wake of the horrifying accident that left Joan Lascorz's tragically paralysed, while Baz may not have seemed the most obvious choice to get his break on the international stage, it was an opportunity he nonetheless grasped with a maturity that belied his 19 years of age.

Initially hampered by a lack of mileage on the bike, Baz's first weekends on the ZX-10R were fairly unspectacular, but they - crucially - did show notable progress.

Top ten finishes in two of his first eight races were commendable, though it was only when Baz was able to get some testing miles under his belt that he really began to flourish.

Indeed, Baz would return from the summer break looking aggressive and at one with the bike, a bond that would see him crack his podium duck at Brno with a run to third position.

At the time, he said it the result was beyond his wildest dreams, but it would be almost forgotten in the wake of his stunning performance at Silverstone, a weekend that saw him claim a wholly unexpected victory in the slippery conditions that otherwise spooked his more experienced rivals into being more cautious.

A few hours later he looked on course to make it a double in sodden conditions, only to fall whilst in the lead. Fortunately for him, an imminent red flag and the subsequent count-back would give him second place, thus affirming his soaring reputation.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Baz couldn't quite scale the same heights over the remainder of the season and his newfound status as a rising star magnified the odd average result or costly mistake.

That said, Baz was a consistent top ten performer by the end of the year, a tally of results that Kawasaki would have probably settled for originally when deciding who to replace Lascorz full-time.

With that famous win under his belt, Baz now has some big objectives to fill in 2013, but there is clearly far more to come from this exciting prospect. Without doubt, Baz was the find of 2012.

Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2011: N/A Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2010: N/A Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2009: N/A Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2008: N/A

Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2012:
10. Leon Camier
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