During the first three rounds of the 2010 season, up to an including his race two victory at Valencia, Noriyuki Haga scored an average of 13.2 points per race.

But in the three events since, including Sunday's Kyalami round, the 2009 title runner-up has managed a mere 4.5 points per race.

That was partially explainable when Ducati Xerox team-mate Michel Fabrizio - and other 1198 riders - were similarly struggling, but the Italian led a Ducati one-two in race one at Kyalami, while Haga limped home in 17th.

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"After about ten laps the performance of the rear tyre dropped dramatically. There wasn't much I could do to improve," said Haga. "I'm disappointed of course because with no grip you don't really get anywhere."

Race two at least brought Haga a few points, for tenth place, as the Japanese experienced a slight improvement in rear grip, but he was still almost 17 seconds from victory after the 24 laps.

"In the second race, having made some small changes to my bike but deciding to go with the same tyre, I had a better overall feeling and, from more or less mid-race, unlike race one, I was able to push increasingly hard," he said.

"The problem was that those ahead of me had already built a significant lead; I needed a few more laps to be able to catch some of them."

Haga remains sixth in the championship, but is now 106 points from the title lead and under threat from BMW's Troy Corser (one point behind) and Fabrizio (eleven points behind).