27 December 2012
WSBK Rider of the Year vote: 4th
You voted in your thousands, but there can only be one winner... This is Crash.net's top ten countdown to the 2012 World Superbike Rider of the Year as voted for by you!
4. Chaz Davies
Team: ParkinGO MTC Racing
Bike: Aprilia RSV4
Championship points: 164.5
Championship position: 9th
Taking away the growing pains suffered by both Chaz Davies and ParkinGO MTC as they stepped up together from the Supersport class to Superbikes, both parties can look back on 2012 as a hugely impressive season.
A wholly privateer effort, the headlines from Davies's maiden season of WSBK racing - ninth in the standings, a maiden victory at the Nurburgring, three further podiums, top rookie and a contract with BMW in his back pocket - were certainly reason enough to be pleased.
However, it is only when you break Davies's season down that you realise quite how far the Welshman came over the 14 rounds.
Having impressed with his immediate pace on a twin-cylinder Ducati during post-season testing, a decision to switch allegiance to Aprilia and the notoriously tricky RSV4 left both Davies and ParkinGO – itself taking its first steps into Superbike racing – on the back foot even before a crash at the season-opening round resulted in a broken wrist.
On his return, results were initially difficult to come by and even though he turned heads with a robust podium-challenge at Assen, it's remarkable to think that Davies didn't even breach the top ten until round five at Donington Park.
Thereafter, however, the results began coming thick-and-fast, Davies cracking the top five at Miller before producing a fabulous ride to a maiden podium at Aragon, during which he even had the 'audacity' to beat Max Biaggi on the factory Aprilia.
By this stage, Davies was proving a regular top five contender, though he was often having to do it from fairly low grid positions, the 25-year-old never quite getting the best from the RSV4 over a single lap in 2012 – a 'criticism' that was also levelled at him during his title-winning WSS campaign in 2011.
Even so, it did at least serve to magnify some excellent rides up the order (he made up more positions than any other rider in 2012), his efforts eventually rewarded with a superb maiden victory at the Nurburgring, ahead of factory Aprilia rider Eugene Laverty.
Not that Davies's season was devoid of error, with crashes from strong positions in Moscow and Portimao preventing him from getting higher than ninth on the final points' tally.
Nonetheless, Davies proved one of the highest-scoring riders during the second-half of the year and though it is a shame his efforts haven't been rewarded with a move into the factory Aprilia team for 2013, an early deal with BMW puts him in a fine position for next season.
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