Technical gremlins defined Stiggy Honda's weekend in Qatar, with both Leon Haslam and Roberto Rolfo
feeling their wrath at some point. Of the two, Rolfo arguably came off worse as he could only manage a handful of laps in both races before retiring – a shame given he'd qualified a competitive ninth. Haslam, on the other hand, had already experienced his problems before the races before putting in an impressive, yet largely unheralded, ride to 11th in the both races - it is worth pointing out he finished 11th in race one having ended lap two in 28th position. On pace alone, Stiggy were just as competitive as they were in Australia, a fact that should put them in good stead for the upcoming rounds – provided they can solve their reliability woes.
Broc Parkes – 13th, 16th
Makoto Tamada – DNS, DNS
Kawasaki made another small step forward in Qatar, with Broc Parkes scoring their first points of the season. While 14th position won't be cause for celebration beyond those who support the underdogs, it was the result of an otherwise encouraging weekend peppered with flashes of speed. A big step forward on day two saw Parkes bothering the top ten in practice, while 13th in qualifying meant Kawasaki actually out-qualified Suzuki and BMW – he was even third quickest during the first knockout phase. Ultimately, Kawasaki's race pace is still wanting, but a test before Valencia should see them looking more competitive when we race there in three weeks time. Team-mate Makoto Tamada
didn't participate after hurting himself in a crash during warm-up – he is expected to be back on the bike for the next round.
Tommy Hill – 15th, DNF
Almost mirroring his performance in Australia, Tommy Hill found himself battling it out in the lower end of the points in Qatar, although he had to be content with just one 15th place finish following a mechanical DNF in the second race. With solid points on the board, Hill will need to look to improve on qualifying for Valencia – in particular not crashing during free practice directly beforehand as he did again at Losail.
Celani Race Suzuki
Karl Muggeridge – 16th, 18th
Although he is very much part of the 'second' group of World Superbike riders that find themselves at wrong end of a gap that seems to separate 20th and 21st, Karl Muggeridge
is arguably the best of these 'others'. Still making progress on the very much under-developed Celani Race Suzuki, the Aussie rider came close to scoring in race one, but remains just slightly off the pace. Nonetheless, Qatar represented a prominent step forward for both rider and team, meaning their first points should be imminent.
Jakub Smrz – DNF, 17th
Brendan Roberts – 21st, 19th
Second position on the grid, just a tenth behind Ben Spies, and two failures to score in the races – Jakub Smrz had right to be frustrated on the plane home from Qatar. The Czech rider's performance in qualifying remains second to none, hauling the privateer Guandalini Ducati higher than even the factory team can manage, while Smrz even looked on the verge of a career-best result in race one as he ran confidently inside the top five. However, an accident scuppered those hopes, before a dash to the pit lane at the start of race two, meant he could only work his way back up to 17th. On the plus side, it is clear Smrz is becoming a consistent threat over a single-lap, while his pace in race one suggests he is beginning to sustain it over a longer distance too. Brendan Roberts, meanwhile, will be looking forward to more familiar territory in Spain after another tough weekend in Qatar that left him scraping together a 19th and 21st place finish. Around 1.5secs off Smrz's pace at the moment, it is a gap he will need to be bridging soon rather than later.
Luca Scassa – 17th, 20th
David Salom – 18th, DNF
A more rounded performance for Pedercini Kawasaki this time, the team continues to get the better of their PSG-1 counterparts, but don't look as though they will be threatening the points any time soon. Luca Scassa led their charge again with a run to 17th in the first race, although David Salom picked up his pace from Australia to follow him in 18th. The former Spanish Supersport champion will no doubt be looking forward to his home round of Valencia – arguably his best chance of the season to get off the mark.
PSG-1 Corse Kawasaki
Matteo Baiocco – 19th, 22nd
Ayrton Badovini – DNF, DNF
Having failed to make the start in Australia due to injury, Ayrton Badovini's 2009 WSBK season went from bad to worse after failing to finish either race in Qatar. His team-mate Matteo Baiocco couldn't pick up the pieces, struggling to an eventual 19th in race one and 22nd in race two.
Squadra Corse Italia Honda
Vittorio Iannuzzo – 20th, 21st
Vittorio Iannuzzo managed his first two finishes of the season in Qatar, but 20th and 21st will not be considered breakthroughs for both himself and the Squadra Corse Italia team. On the plus side, the Italian was amongst the close battle with those around him – sadly, it is only for minor positions outside the top twenty.