Leon Haslam is taking the positives from an otherwise difficult second round of the World Superbike Championship after finishing outside the top ten in Qatar.
Eager to build on his podium-winning debut with the Stiggy Racing team in Australia, technical gremlins stymied Haslam's progress throughout the weekend, his lack of track time ultimately leading to him qualify a lowly 18th.
His weekend would go from bad to worse in the first race when he ran off the track towards the beginning, but a series of impressive lap times allowed him to make swift progress back through the field. In the end, Haslam ran out of time to quite reach the top ten, instead crossing the line 11th.
It was a result he repeated in race two after another difficult start left him on the cusp of the top twenty by the end of the first lap. Nonetheless, Haslam dug deep to get as high as ninth, only to be out-dragged by both BMWs on the finish line.
Although disappointing on paper, Haslam is taking heart from race pace that would have ordinarily seen him challenging for a top five result.
“We didn't have the best of weekends. The race pace has proven that we could have definitely run top five. I had terrible starts in both races and obviously running off the track in race one didn't really help, but coming through in eleventh in both races with the pace I ran I have to be happy with that.
“My crew worked really hard all weekend for minimum track time and gave me a bike that would have been capable to run at the front. There is a lot of potential in the bike so I'm looking forward to the next race in Valencia now. With better qualifying it should be good.”
Team-mate Roberto Rolfo fared no better as he assumed the brunt of the Stiggy technical issues this time. Managing just a handful of competitive laps in both races, the Italian was disappointed after qualifying in ninth.
“Both races were very complicated. I had an electrical problem in the first race when the bike just suddenly stopped. The problem already played up in the warm up lap but I tried to start anyway. As the problem persisted I had to return to the box.
“I felt quite confident after my start in race two. For 5 or 6 laps the feeling with the bike was really good and felt I could improve my position. Then it complicated in the corner when the bike started to vibrate in the front and I had difficulties cornering. Then I just got slower and didn't manage to hold onto my position. Then I just lost speed and dropped back before I had to retire completely.”