Ben Spies' ability to turn up and win the World Superbike crown at his first attempt is was the biggest single surprise of the year. In terms impressing against the odds though, Leon Haslam and his Stiggy Honda team have to be victors.
With his fellow WSB Brits signing for either established or factory backed teams, Haslam looked to be taking a big gamble when he moved to the Stiggy Honda squad in 2009.
Despite the lack of data and manufacturer support Haslam and his carefully crafted Johan Stigefelt run team were a revelation from the opening round of the championship.
The 26 year old claimed four podiums to finish sixth in the overall standings and showed that with desire, talent and commitment it is possible for a small budget private team to run at the front of a world championship.
As far as weekend entertainment goes it was hats off to 250GP champion Marco Simoncelli, with his stunning one off performance at Imola.
The 22 year old Italian backed up his reputation of having little or no respect for his rivals by barging past his own team-mate Max Biaggi to secure a third placed podium in race two.
After the race he revealed to MCN that his friend Valentino Rossi had sent him a text message saying that he must beat Biaggi, but his official response was that he braked too late and wasn’t even planning to pass his team-mate let alone push him off the track. We’ll let you decide!