While some may consider his frustrating two-year tenure in MotoGP as the defining moment of what remained a long career on the international motorcycling scene, James Toseland cannot be forgotten as the man that has two World Superbike titles to his name.

The Briton's career has peaked and troughed over the years, and while his most recent foray to WSBK has not quite been the success he - and many - had predicted, there is no denying the talents of a man that has racked up 16 WSBK wins over the years.

Toseland, a former trials rider who overcame family problems and injury early in his career, made his first impression on the motorcycling scene with a run to third position in the British Supersport Championship, a performance that saw him promoted to the Castrol-backed Honda outfit on the world championship for both 1998 and 1999, the then 19-year-old improving to 11th position at the second attempt.

Returning to the domestic scene in 2000 for his Superbike debut with the Paul Bird Honda team, Toseland endured a tough maiden campaign on the faster machinery with a run to 12th position overall.

Nonetheless, he was still rewarded with a spot in GSE Racing's World Superbike effort for 2001 alongside Neil Hodgson aboard a Ducati. Toseland did not disgrace himself alongside accomplished rivals to finish the year in 13th overall and clutching a best finish of sixth on home ground at Brands Hatch.

Staying with Ducati but switching to HM Plant, Toseland made notable strides in 2002, proving a consistent top ten performer to lift him up to seventh position in the final standings. However, whilst he did climb onto the podium for the first time with a run to third at Assen, it was a single occurrence.

His progress helped him secure a stay of execution with the team, Toseland capitalising on Ducati's dominance of the field to add another nine podiums to his tally. More significant was his long awaited first win at Oschersleben, a performance that helped him secure third in the standings and an opportunity to replace Neil Hodgson at the factory Fila Ducati team for 2004.

With nothing less than the title expected of him, Toseland lived up to expectations to snatch the 2004 championship under dramatic circumstances during a tense title showdown at the Magny-Cours season finale.

Though Toseland trailed team-mate and title foe Regis Laconi on wins (2 wins to 7 heading into the final round), his better consistency meant the pair headed to France level on points.

However, while Laconi had home advantage, Toseland produced his best to take a win and a second place, out-scoring his rival's pair of thirds. The title was Toseland's as he made it back-to-back wins for British riders.

Toseland remained with Ducati for 2005, but endured a tough title defence (not helped by a huge pre-season testing high-side and ever more competitive four-cylinder machines) and didn't finish on the podium until round four.

The highlight of his season was a home victory at Silverstone but he was unable to win again and finished the year fifth in championship with seven podiums. He and team-mate Laconi, however, were replaced by Troy Bayliss and Lorenzo Lanzi for 2006.

With Chris Vermeulen moving to MotoGP for 2006, Toseland gratefully accepted the Australian's Winston Ten Kate Honda ride, then rebuilt his reputation with a breakthrough season - in which he finished second only to dominant champion Troy Bayliss.

The Englishman took three wins from 12 podiums, opening up the chance of a MotoGP ride with d'Antin Ducati for 2007. Toseland reluctantly turned the ride down and committed his immediate future to WSBK, Ten Kate and most importantly Honda, with whom he eventually hoped to enter MotoGP - preferably as a double World Superbike champion.

Toseland's second and final year at Ten Kate Honda began with 2-1 race finishes at the Qatar season opener and, while his rivals produced on/off rides during the first half of the season, Toseland finished off the podium just twice in 12 races to take a solid title lead.

Yamaha's Noriyuki Haga and star rookie Max Biaggi then fought back during the second half of the season - when Toseland suffered some accidents and misfortune - and the last round began with the top three riders - Toseland, Biaggi and Haga - covered by 33 points. Bayliss had been ruled out of the title fight by injury.

Toseland, desperate to leave WSBK as a double world champion, proved his nerve by winning his final Superpole appearance - but saw all his advantage undone after tangling with Lorenzo Lanzi at turn one of race one. In what was close to a worst case scenario, Toseland spearing off track but - with his heart in his mouth - managed to keep his Honda on two wheels and rejoin at the back of the field.

Toseland went on to fight his way up to seventh, just one place behind an off-form Biaggi, while Haga took the win. The world title thus came down to the final race of the year, which Toseland began 17 points clear of Haga. The Yamaha star was on peerless form at Magny-Cours, duly winning race two for his second double of the season, but a safe sixth place for Toseland gave him the world crown by just two points.

From the 25 races, Toseland took 8 wins, 14 podiums and 2 pole positions. A long overdue first double victory was claimed in front of his home fans at Brand Hatch, where he also announced a move to MotoGP in 2008 with Tech 3 Yamaha.

Of the four 2008 MotoGP rookies, James Toseland was the only one not to have raced in 125 or 250GP, but the reigning double World Superbike champion made an instant impact by qualifying a (valve-spring) Tech 3 Yamaha second on the grid for his MotoGP debut at Qatar.

Toseland finished the race in sixth, a position he repeated five further times in 2008, with his highlight of the year a thrilling ride at the Australian Grand Prix, when he became one of the few riders to fight back and re-pass Valentino Rossi this season.

The low point of Toseland's season was surely a turn one accident at his home British GP, an event that marked the start of a difficult run of races, and Toseland finished the season eleventh in the championship with 105 points from the 18 races.

That meant an average of 5.8 points per race, which compares as follows with fellow World Superbike champions Troy Bayliss, Colin Edwards and Neil Hodgson during their first MotoGP season: Bayliss 8 points per race average (2003), Edwards 3.9 points per race average (2003) and Hodgson 2.4 points per race average (2004). Nicky Hayden, who arrived in MotoGP as the AMA Superbike champion, scored 8.1 points per race average in 2003.

With the knowledge gained from his debut season, Toseland was hoping to become a regular podium contender in 2009 after agreeing to stay on with the Tech 3 team.

However, he would court controversy pre-season when it was announced that Tech 3 was swapping Toseland and Edwards's crew chiefs' at the request of Toseland, prompting Edwards to launch a fierce war of words with his team-mate in the media.

Despite the upheaval Toseland was still unable to find a comfortable set-up on the M1 and, coupled to two substantial pre-season accidents, began the year on a back foot he couldn't recover from.

While Toseland scored in all but two races over the year, he failed to crack the top five once and was classified a lowly 14th overall - three places lower than his maiden campaign. By contrast, Edwards had the satisfaction of crushing his team-mate by ending the year fifth.

Though an earlier announcement that WSBK star and Yamaha prot?g? Ben Spies was set to stay in the production series for another season potentially threw Toseland the option of a third year in MotoGP, it was later confirmed that the American would progress to MotoGP with Tech 3 as Toseland's replacement.

Leaving Toseland with no viable MotoGP options, he accepted an offer to stay with Yamaha, but return to World Superbikes alongside Cal Crutchlow for 2010.

A modest start to the year while Yamaha sorted out fundamental issues on the R1 prevented Toseland from getting onto the podium until round six at Valencia, but three more podiums from the next four races lifted him into outside title contention.

However, an accident during the second race at Monza would unsettle Toseland heading into the mid-season and he would struggle to repeat that form.

Furthermore, when it became clear that Toseland had been overlooked by Yamaha when scouting for the injured Valentino Rossi's replacement in MotoGP, it was evident that the man had fallen out of favour with the manufacturer.

Indeed, with Crutchlow grabbing the headlines with his pole positions and wins, Toseland was shuffled into a supporting role over the second-half of the season and he failed to lift himself onto the podium again. Five retirements from the final six races would eventually push Toseland down to a disappointing ninth in the standings.

As expected, he was not retained by the manufacturer at the end of 2010, Toseland opening himself to offers with rival WSBK manufacturers. However, with preferred options Ducati withdrawing and Honda uncertain over whether to run one or two bikes, he was forced to look elsewhere.

Eventually Toseland would land at BMW, albeit with their new Italia operation, which is stepped up to the premier World Superbike stage having dominated the FIM Superstock 1000 series with Ayrton Badovini a year earlier.

Though considered something of a large step back on paper, particularly when the season got underway and the burgeoning team were down the field, Badovini has since shown immense improvements to be on a par with - and occasionally faster than - the factory BMW Motorrad.

Unfortunately for Toseland, he would never get the chance to make the most of the bike's step forward thanks to a nasty crash in testing at Motorland Aragon just one round into the season. Hurting his wrist, though Toseland persevered with his recovery on the sidelines, his steady return mid-season indicated he could never return to peak condition.

Indeed, when he fell once more at the Nurburgring, a medical examination would confirm his worst fears, prompting Toseland to reluctantly call time on what remains a remarkable and hugely successful career...

Key Statistics

WSBK Races: 201WSBK Wins: 16WSBK Pole Positions: 4WSBK Titles: 2

2001: GSE Ducati (13th), 2002: HM Plant Ducati (7th), 2003: HM Plant Ducati (3rd), 2004: Ducati Fila (1st), 2005: Ducati Xerox (4th), 2006: Winston Ten Kate Honda (2nd), 2007: Ten Kate Honda (1st), 2010: Yamaha Sterilgarda (9th), 2011: BMW Italia

MotoGP Races: 35MotoGP Best Finish 6th

2008: Tech 3 Yamaha (11th), 2009: Tech 3 Yamaha (14th)



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