Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2013: 1. Tom Sykes
Nationality: British Team: Kawasaki Racing Bike: Kawasaki ZX-10R Wins: 9 Podiums: 18 Championship points: 447 Championship position: 1st

Though missing out on the World Superbike Championship by just half-a-point (particularly in a year of missed opportunities) would be more than enough to faze most riders going forward, Tom Sykes's 2012 disappointment simply made him stronger and more focused coming into 2013.

Elevated from plucky underdog to title favourite for the new season, even the added burden of expectation couldn't pressurise Sykes in 2013, while a pre-season injury that threatened to put the brakes on his challenge before it had started wasn't enough to keep the smile from his face.

Indeed, 'the grinner' had much to be happy about in 2013, not least on Saturdays, his incredible reputation for one-lap specials continuing into the new season as he notched up eight pole positions, six of which came consecutively.

However, while few could possibly be surprised by Sykes's continued Superpole dominance in 2013, it was his ability to squeeze every ounce of speed from the Kawasaki ZX-10R on race day that marked a pivotal progression from his 2012 campaign.

Indeed, while the ZX-10R was notably more consistent over a race distance - the result of Sykes and Loris Baz's exhaustive testing regime -, it wasn't always the strongest package compared with Aprilia and BMW. Despite this, Sykes's race craft came on leaps and bounds in 2013, the Briton able to manage situations enough to ensure he was never far from the lead fight even on difficult days.

It meant Sykes would stand on the podium at least once in 11 of the 14 events, while non-scores were limited to two technical DNFs and an embarrassing - albeit isolated - sighting lap crash in Portugal.

On the flipside, when the ZX-10R was running faultlessly Sykes was simply unbeatable, his utterly dominant double wins at Donington Park, Imola and - crucially - Magny-Cours spearheading a title campaign that occasionally stuttered, but never missed a beat.

For those performances alone - not to mention the heartbreak of twelve months earlier - there would be very few in the paddock to begrudge Sykes his much-deserved title, yet it was his combination of winning speed, consistency, modesty and focus that would ultimately take him all the way to a championship crown he well and truly deserved.

Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2012: 1st Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2011: 5th Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2010: 6th Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2009: 12th Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2008: N/A

Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2013:

2. Eugene Laverty 3. Sylvain Guintoli 4. Chaz Davies 5. Marco Melandri 6. Loris Baz 7. Jonathan Rea 8. Davide Giugliano 9. Toni Elias 10. Leon Camier

Do you agree the poll results? If not, why not? Leave your comments below...

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