With the 2009 World Superbike Championship passing its halfway mark with round seven of 14 at Miller Motorsports Park at the end of May, Crash.net asked what has surprised you most from the season so far.

Eight options were given and, ahead of this weekend's eighth round at Misano, voting has now closed. The full list of results is shown at the end of the story.

Topping your list of surprises, with 35.04% of the vote, has been the performance of Leon Haslam, who has taken three podiums during his first WSBK season since 2004.

The Briton has scored more podiums than any other Honda rider and held third in the championship, behind Noriyuki Haga and Ben Spies, after a brilliant ride during round four at Assen. Haslam remains a close sixth in the championship despite one non-score at each of the last three events.

Part of the Haslam 'surprise' is that he has achieved all this during Stiggy Honda's very first WSBK season, something both he and the team deserve credit for - especially having extracted more from the CBR1000RR than the sibling Ten Kate team at many events.

A close second to Haslam for shock value has been the stunning debut season of Ben Spies (30.47% of the vote) who has taken all seven pole positions and won seven of the 14 races, plus two further podiums, to sit second to Haga.

Whilst the Yamaha rider has clearly done an incredible job, the fact that Spies' vote is not higher indicates that many viewers expected such great things from the triple AMA champion.

Indeed, it is worth remembering that Spies was voted favourite for the 2009 WSBK title by Crash.net viewers just before the season began.

A distant third with 7.98%, and the first 'negative' surprise, has been reigning BSB champion Shane Byrne's inability to match his stunning test pace with Sterilgarda Ducati. The Englishman sits just 15th in the points with a best finish of sixth at Qatar.

A fraction fewer viewers were shocked by Haga's substantial points lead during his debut Ducati Xerox season, the Japanese star holding a 53 point lead heading into the second half of the year after six wins and five further podiums from the 14 races so far.

Also rated at 7% was the pace of Max Biaggi and the new Aprilia RSV4, while even fewer were surprised to see Makoto Tamada as the lowest factory rider, the general strength of some non-factory teams, plus the failure of the new BMW squad to take a podium.

Poll results: Your biggest surprise of the WSBK season so far.

1. Leon Haslam's three podiums for Stiggy Honda - 35.04%
2. Ben Spies' performance in his rookie season - 30.47%
3. Shane Byrne being unable to match testing form - 7.98%
4. Noriyuki Haga's substantial points lead - 7.48%
5. Aprilia and Biaggi's pace with the new RSV4 - 7.36%
6. Makoto Tamada being lowest placed factory rider - 5.74%
7. Strengths of 'privateers' such as Smrz, Laconi - 2.37%
8. Big budget BMW yet to reach the podium - 2.20%
9. Other - 1.36%


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