Max Biaggi wins the World Superbikes crown by the smallest ever margin
Max Biaggi made history by winning the 2012 World Superbike Championship by half a point from Britain's Tom Sykes.
Last Updated: 08/10/12 12:46am
On an extraordinary afternoon of racing at Magny-Cours, the Aprilia rider fell on lap two of the first race.
That allowed rivals Sykes (Kawasaki) and Marco Melandri (BMW) to make the podium behind Sylvain Guintoli and close the points gap to 14.5 and 18.5 points respectively.
But the Italian's fifth-placed finish in the second race - won by Sykes - was enough to ensure his second World Championship success by a margin of just 0.5 points, two years after he claimed his first title with Aprilia.
Yorkshireman Sykes had done all he could to win his first-ever championship, winning the final 23-lap race by two seconds from Jonathan Rea (Honda), but his victory was not enough to overcome Biaggi's tally of 358 points.
Guintoli (PATA) had taken the first race by over six seconds from Melandri and by over 16 seconds from Sykes, but could only place third in the second race.
Melandri crashed out of contention in the second race, but finished the season third overall, with 328.5 points.
A victorious and emotional Biaggi told the Corriere dello Sport: "It was a difficult championship and I was sweating right until the end.
"And it really was very satisfying. It's an indescribable feeling and I still can't believe it.
"Everything that could have happened, happened, in every race. And after coming through them all, I'm happy that it finished this way.
"I dedicate this to all the guys that worked with me. To my (fiancee) Eleanora, my kids, my father and all my family.
"To everybody who wanted this to happen, and to the Aprilia Race Team."