In a surprise move that caught everyone off guard (including Piaggio/Aprilia management), Max Biaggi has retired from racing, his “Roman Emperor” crown adorned with the laurels of his 2012 World Superbike title. How surprised was Aprilia? A contract for 2013 was prepped and ready, only needing Biaggi’s signature. He did not sign.
At the age of 41, Biaggi has a beautiful family and solid economic standing, so he has a lot of good reasons to hang up his helmet and enjoy a more relaxed life. For this announcement, Biaggi chose the press room at the Vallelunga circuit, near his hometown of Rome, where his brilliant career started in 1990 when he finished third in a 125cc GP race for the Italian National Championship, competing with the likes of Loris Capirossi, Fausto Gresini and a bunch of other very good riders.
At that time, Biaggi was riding a Honda 125, but his name and his victories will remain associated with Aprilia Racing. The Italian won his first world championship race on an Aprilia at the 1992 South African Grand Prix and then went on to win his first 250 GP title in 1994. He won three more 250 world championships in a row, the last one on a Honda. Yes, although he had special ties with Aprilia, his harsh character caused him to break also with the Italian factory, and then come back again in a revolving-door sequence.
In 1998, Biaggi stepped up to the 500cc Grand Prix class but met very stiff competition from the likes of Mick Doohan and, of course, Valentino Rossi. He raced MotoGP with Honda until 2006, then took a break. In 2007, he landed in World Superbike, first with Suzuki, then on a satellite Ducati. But finally, in 2009, he was back on an Aprilia. This time it was on the RSV4, a bike specifically conceived for him. The following year, he became the first Italian rider to win the World Superbike title. And he did it again this year.
Not an easy character to get along with, Biaggi only felt fully at home with the Aprilia team, never with Honda and Yamaha. He won 42 Grand Prix races in various classes during his career and topped the podium 21 times in World Superbike. His elegant riding style, his clean lines, his strong drive for victory will always be his hallmarks. He needed an experienced chief mechanic because he was not particularly talented with bike setup. And he would complain a lot. But he would give all once the flag dropped.
Biaggi will be missed in the World Superbike circle because he was the most illustrious member of the GP elite to join the series, and he took everyone in the paddock very seriously. Aprilia Racing Department Director Gigi Dall’Igna admitted that Biaggi will be very hard to replace. He might be very right.