2012 World Superbike Championship
Following Sunday’s season finale at Magny-Cours, the 2012 World Superbike Championship entered the history books with more than just a 25th anniversary celebration.
The fiercely-battle season brought about the smallest margin of victory since World SBK begin in 1988. The margin? A half of point, which is what Aprilia Racing’s Max Biaggi had over Kawasaki Racing’s Tom Sykes to take the 2012 title after 14 rounds.
But the French round didn’t start well for Biaggi. On the third lap of a wet race one, Biaggi, who qualified 10th, lost the front end of his RSV4, causing a DNF. Frustration ultimately followed when the points were tightened following Sykes’ third-place finish finish in race one.
But it wasn’t only Sykes threatening the 41-year-old Biaggi; the other man who had a mathematical chance at the title – BMW Motorrad’s Marco Melandri – finished second.
Following race one, Sykes now trailed Biaggi by 14.5 points, with Melandri 18.5 points behind. The pressure was on…if Sykes or Melandri took the win, Biaggi would have to finish fifth or better to secure the title.
And Sykes would do just that, taking his fourth win of 2012 World SBK, a season where he took nine poles. But though not the cleanest race for Biaggi, he was able to take a fifth-place finish, ultimately winning the 2012 World SBK title by a mere 0.5 points.
Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing RSV4 Superbike) says: “This is the fourth world championship out of six that I’ve won in the last race. I guess I must like a difficult challenge! The 2012 season was tight to say the least: we started off well winning at Phillip Island after completely revamping my team, but we also had some difficult moments.
“We definitely worked for the title and maybe that’s why it’s an even sweeter victory. I’d like to thank the Team, Aprilia and Piaggio Group, from president Colaninno to the last worker because my success is just the tip of a great Italian company’s work. I would also like to thank my family, my girlfriend Eleonora and my two children, as well as the always present Marino Laghi”.
The 2012 title was Biaggi’s second in World Superbike, and sixth in his world motorcycle racing career.
Biaggi’s first world title arrived in 1994 while competing aboard an Aprilia in the former 250cc class; it would be the first of four consecutive championships in the class.
The Italian followed up the 1994 win by taking the 1995 and 1996 250cc titles aboard an Aprilia, and the 1997 title aboard a Honda. Biaggi then competed in MotoGP from 1998 through 2005, taking runner-up in three of those years.
In 2006, Biaggi was supposed to join the Corona Alstare Suzuki team in World Superbike, but the team had prior contract commitments with riders Troy Corser and Yukio Kagayama. Biaggi took the year off, but replaced Corser on the team for the 2007 World SBK Championship.
Biaggi finished third overall in 2007, and joined the Ducati team the following year, finishing seventh overall.
In 2009, Aprilia entered the World Superbike Championship with its all-new RSV-4, signing the older Biaggi, who immediately showed much promise on the new V4-powered superbike. Biaggi finished that year fourth overall after amassing 11 podiums, which included one race win (Yamaha’s Ben Spies took the title).
But it was the 2010 year where Biaggi would show the true worth of the Aprilia RSV4, the “Roman Emperor” taking the title after winning 10 races. Biaggi began the 2011 season strongly, looking to wrap another title. But he would suffer a foot injury after hitting some on-track debris during practicing at Nurburgring. Due to the injury, Biaggi would miss the Nurburgring round, and the subsequent two at Imola and Magny-Cours.
Regardless of the missed rounds, Biaggi would still finish third overall behind BMW Motorrad’s Marco Melandri and title-winner, Althea Ducati’s Carlos Checa.
Then 2012 arrived. It was an up and down year for Biaggi, with him taking only five wins. But though his results weren’t the best, neither were those of any other rider. This brought the tightest racing in the series history, which came down to the last round Sunday at Magny-Cours, Biaggi vying for points with Sykes and Melandri.
But Biaggi would come out on top, though the victory wasn’t realized until the last moments of the 14-round World Superbike Championship.
Gigi Dall’Igna (Aprilia Racing Technical and Sport Director) says: “Winning is always something extraordinary, but winning a world championship this way, at the last turn of the last race, makes it incredibly exciting. Credit to Max who battled on every circuit, always earning important points and bringing home fantastic victories which led us to this double victory today.
Aprilia’s victory in the Manufacturer World Championship, thanks also to Laverty (Eugene, Biaggi’s teammate), is a reward for a great Group and a Racing Division which are the pride of Italian technology. Applause also goes to our rivals, never before so many and strong enough to make the outcome of this championship uncertain and unforgettable down to the last moment.”
With his second WSBK title, Biaggi is now the eighth rider to take multiple championships in the series. Biaggi joins Fred Merkel, Doug Polen, Carl Fogarty, Colin Edwards, James Toseland, Troy Corser and Troy Bayliss.