Biaggi claims Superbike title - just
Max Biaggi made history on Sunday by winning the 2012 World Superbike Championship by half a point from Tom Sykes - the smallest-ever margin - following a dramatic afternoon of racing at Magny-Cours.
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The Aprilia rider fell on lap two of the first race, allowing rivals Sykes (Kawasaki) and Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) to make the podium and close the points gap to 14.5 and 18.5 points respectively.
But the Italian's fifth-placed finish in the second race 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.
Sylvain 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 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."
Race one result: 1 Sylvain Guintoli (Fra) Ducati 44mins 06.299secs, 2 Marco Melandri (Ita) BMW 44:12.426, 3 Tom Sykes (Gbr) Kawasaki 44:22.894, 4 Maxime Berger (Fra) Ducati 44:28.156, 5 Leon Haslam (Gbr) BMW 44:31.448, 6 Ayrton Badovini (Ita) BMW 44:39.077, 7 Eugene Laverty (Gbr) Aprilia 44:40.610, 8 Davide Giugliano (Ita) Ducati 44:53.568, 9 Claudio Corti (Ita) Kalex 44:56.019, 10 Loris Baz (Fra) Kawasaki 44:56.491, 11 Norino Brignola (Ita) BMW 44:07.829, 12 Michel Fabrizio (Ita) BMW 44:30.357, 13 Jonathan Rea (Gbr) Honda 45:54.249, 14 Leon Camier (Gbr) Suzuki 17:30.576, 15 Carlos Checa (Spa) Ducati 13:28.550
Race two result: 1 Tom Sykes (Gbr) Kawasaki 38mins 15.725secs, 2 Jonathan Rea (Gbr) Honda 38:17.079, 3 Sylvain Guintoli (Fra) Ducati 38:18.118, 4 Eugene Laverty (Gbr) Aprilia 38:28.847, 5 Max Biaggi (Ita) Aprilia 38:29.680, 6 Davide Giugliano (Ita) Ducati 38:33.954, 7 Carlos Checa (Spa) Ducati 38:34.155, 8 Chaz Davies (Gbr) Aprilia 38:42.373, 9 Ayrton Badovini (Ita) BMW 38:49.534, 10 Leon Camier (Gbr) Suzuki 38:52.942
Riders' Championship standings: 1 Max Biaggi (Ita) Aprilia 358pts, 2 Tom Sykes (Gbr) Kawasaki 357.5, 3 Marco Melandri (Ita) BMW 328.5, 4 Carlos Checa (Spa) Ducati 287.5, 5 Jonathan Rea (Gbr) Honda 278.5, 6 Eugene Laverty (Gbr) Aprilia 263.5, 7 Sylvain Guintoli (Fra) Ducati 213.5, 8 Leon Haslam (Gbr) BMW 200, 9 Chaz Davies (Gbr) Aprilia 164.5, 10 Davide Giugliano (Ita) Ducati 143
Manufacturers' Championship standings: 1 Aprilia 444.5pts, 2 BMW 421, 3 Ducati 416, 4 Kawasaki 397.5, 5 Honda 293.5, 6 Suzuki 136.5