Eugene Laverty Nationality:
There was certainly a buzz of excitement when Eugene Laverty was announced as a factory Aprilia rider for 2012, even more so when the Irishman proved immediately fast during post-season testing.
At that stage the new season seemed so far away, but it didn't stop many counting Laverty amongst the title favourites for 2012, particularly in the wake of a fantastic maiden year with Yamaha.
With the 2012 season done and dusted, there is an unyielding sense that Laverty on the RSV4 didn't quite live up to expectations – a feeling the man himself agrees with -, though it is tempered by the impression things are looking up for next year…
In essence, Laverty didn't have a poor season - he was rarely outside the top eight come the chequered flag. However, in a year that saw more front runners than ever, nine race winners and 15 podium winners, Laverty wasn't capturing enough headlines.
Not that it was all Laverty's own doing, his claims that the bike had a fundamental mechanical issue seemingly falling on deaf ears at Aprilia for several rounds. Eventually, the 'issue' was discovered and cured, and from that point (Aragon onwards) a vindicated Laverty saw an upsurge in performance.
Such was the improvement in his pace, he ended the season with four more podiums (six in total), a long-awaited race win at Portimao and bragging rights that he actually out-scored title challenging team-mate Max Biaggi during the second-half of the year.
Indeed, another couple of races and Laverty would have likely been celebrating fourth in the standings again, but instead he has settled with sixth on the 2012 leaderboard and seventh in your poll.
With Biaggi hanging up his leathers, Laverty becomes a greater focus for Aprilia in 2013, a closer relationship that can only assist the 26-year-old on a renewed title quest.
After all, it's easy to forget this three-time race winner has only raced Superbikes for two years…Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2011:
2ndTop 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2010:
N/ATop 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2009:
N/ATop 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2008:
N/ATop 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2012: 8. Carlos Checa 9. Loris Baz 10. Leon Camier Do you agree the poll results? If not, why not? Leave your comments below...