Chris Vermeulen feels he is 'consistently a lot closer to the front' after partaking in his first in-season World Superbike test session of the year at Imola.

The Australian has struggled to find form since injuring his knee on his Kawasaki debut at Phillip Island, the former MotoGP racer consistently classified as the slowest factory-backed rider on the grid over the first half of the season.

However, despite once again ending the two-days as the lowest-placed Superbike rider in 17th, Vermeulen is confident his results will begin to improve having focused primarily on development and not lap times.

"We have gone through some of the parts that have been introduced through the year and this is the first chance I have been able to do something on the bike, without being under the pressure of race weekend, since my accident. Conditions were pretty extreme so we were trying to get as much good information as we could.

"Consistently we are a lot closer to the front, so that is very positive. The new tyres that Pirelli brought have been good. We did not run a qualifier at these tests because that is only to get a number on a time sheet."

Team-mate Tom Sykes, meanwhile, showed flashes of good pace on the ZX-10R as he threatened the top ten over the two days.

"We have done a lot of testing over these two days and that has been really good. We have tested just about everything, made a lot of progress and also seem to have found some consistency on tyres.

"Overall, a very positive test. Hats off to the whole of the team; they have worked hard and lots of things have been changed on the bike. It has been a busy two days and I will definitely sleep well now!"