Shane Byrne is hoping to have done enough to remain in the World Superbike Championship for 2010 after a maiden full-time campaign with Sterilgarda Ducati that is now beginning to hit its stride.
Arriving in the series as the reigning British Superbike Champion, Byrne raised several eyebrows when he dominated the crucial pre-season test at Portimao, the Briton being installed as one of the title favourites before the opening rounds.
However, a difficulty in getting the bike set up for a race distance hurt his chances during the first half of the season, Byrne finishing consistently, but only inside the top ten on a handful of occasions.
Nonetheless, a breakthrough in the United States, when Byrne qualified on the second row, has given way to a series of strong results, one which has seen him finish inside the top eight in the last six races, including a second place in the damp at Misano.
This is despite Byrne and Sterilgarda Ducati, who had already been forced to scale back their effort to a single rider in the days leading up the opening round, being unable to develop the 1098RS much beyond what they started out with in Australia.
"I can't say that WSB has been a lot more difficult than I expected it to be, because it is a world championship and has a lot of fantastic riders in it, and very strong teams," he told the official World Superbike website.
"Last year was great in BSB obviously, and then I had two WSB tests where I was quickest. We missed the Australian test, went to the first races and things got difficult, and then they started getting more and more difficult."
"Just lately we have turned a bit of a corner, made a few improvements chassis-wise and the Ducati is always a good bike to go race distance with, so that has helped us out a bit. Before, in the first six or seven laps or so, the bike felt a bit cumbersome and I couldn't do what I wanted it to do, but now we have made improvements in that area."
With four rounds remaining, including one at the Portimao circuit he now knows intimately, Byrne is hoping a strong end to the season will prompt a stay of execution in the series next year.
"I am really looking forward to next season, should I be able to stay in WSB. So much of the unknowns from this year won't be unknowns any more."