Of course, Biaggi would reel off the title by the very smallest of margins, leaving Sykes fans to ponder what could have been and Biaggi fans to breathe a collective sigh of relief!
Some will argue that Biaggi was fortunate to come out on top (none of Sykes's very costly DNFs were self-inflicted), but for every moment when the Italian received some luck – such as Eugene Laverty hanging back on team orders in Russia -, there is one where the 'Emperor' redeemed himself, such as his resolve to jump back on his damaged bike in Germany to finish 13th when many would have forgiven him for sulking in the gravel trap and his stunning fight back to second right at the start of the season in Australia. That extra ounce of determination would be critical to his eventual success.
A man that has polarised opinions over the years, the loss of Biaggi to a world of fatherhood remains a blow for the series.
Then again, who can blame Biaggi for wanting to go out on the ultimate high, being remembered as the man that fought for every last little point… and how fitting would that prove in 2012?
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2011:
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2010:
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2009:
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2008:
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2012:
3. Marco Melandri
4. Chaz Davies
5. Sylvain Guintoli
6. Jonathan Rea
7. Eugene Laverty
8. Carlos Checa
9. Loris Baz