12. Shane Byrne – Althea Ducati (123 points): C
Another rider that has struggled to get the best from the Ducati 1198, Shane Byrne insists he is riding better than ever, though his results suggest otherwise. Handed a lifeline with Althea Ducati following the reduction of the Sterilgarda outfit, Byrne has not quite lived up to the expectations that his form towards the end of 2009 and his pre-season testing results had led to believe. Even worse, he has been comprehensively out-classed by Carlos Checa, while he is now placed in a lonely 12th position overall. A frustrating and nondescript season for the former British Superbike Champion.
13. Jakub Smrz – B&G Ducati/Aprilia (71 points): B-
It's been a difficult season for Jakub Smrz because while he has once again shown his class over a single lap, his performances in the races have let him down. Starting the year with the restructured Guandalini team, which now has Borciani on board, and on a Ducati, it was clear Smrz's machine was seemingly less competitive than his bike from 2009. A run of mechanical-related DNFs necessitated an unprecedented mid-season switch to Aprilia, where Smrz has shown flashes of potential on the RSV-4. We will have a better idea of where Smrz is in the WSBK hierarchy when the season has finished.
14. Ruben Xaus – BMW Motorrad (69 points): C-
While he remains fairly buoyant about his season with BMW, there is no getting away from the fact that Ruben Xaus has scored less than half the points of his team-mate so far this season. Unable to get the best from the much improved bike, while Corser is fighting up at the front, Xaus has barely progressed from the mid-field. His experience and technical knowledge shouldn't be underestimated, however, and BMW would probably not be up there without him, but he is yet to show that he warrants a third season on the S1000RR and he is running out of time to do so.
15. Luca Scassa – Supersonic Ducati (53 points): B
The likes of Matteo Baiocco, Roger Lee Hayden, Ayrton Badovini, Vittorio Iannuzzo and David Salom can all take heart from Luca Scassa's performances this season. Each one has raced the Pedercini Kawasaki in their career and struggled for form, but only one has since been given the chance to show his mettle on a fairly competitive Superbike. Indeed, while Scassa was barely noticeable on the ZX-10R last year, he has been one of the season's surprises with rookie outfit Supersonic Ducati. An increasingly frequent top ten visitor, while it is true that he is riding a good bike – Haga's Ducati from last year in fact -, his linear progression ensures that Scassa could be one to watch in the future.
16. Tom Sykes – Kawasaki SRT (50 points): B
To say joining Kawasaki is a poisoned chalice for ones career would be considered somewhat harsh. In fact, in Tom Sykes's case, it probably represented the best thing for him as he looked to rebuild a reputation that was left floundering somewhat when he was dumped by Yamaha. Reveling in pressure-free surroundings, while Sykes hasn't quite been able to lift the ZX-10R into the upper echelons of competition – while the improvements of BMW make the gap seem wider -, he is arguably pushing the ageing machine above and beyond. Everyone likes an underdog, which helps, but Sykes will take some pleasure in the knowledge that Crutchlow and Toseland haven't quite shone on the R1 either – perhaps Ben Spies was really just that good…?
17. Lorenzo Lanzi – DFX Ducati (46 points): D
On a bike that was challenging at the front of the field in the hands of Regis Laconi prior to his serious accident at Kyalami, Lorenzo Lanzi hasn't done anything to suggest he can fill the Frenchman's shoes. Consistent but certainly no better than mid-field, Lanzi may be a race winner at WSBK level, but it doesn't look as though he'll be adding to that tally any time soon.
18. Max Neukirchner – Ten Kate Honda (40 points): D
It seems remarkable to think that Max Neukirchner is classified in 18th position with just one top ten finish to his name having joined former champions Ten Kate Honda. Indeed, as a race winner himself, Neukirchner and Ten Kate's link up was seen as a positive move for the German, but the opposite has instead been true. Neukirchner has struggled to get speed from the bike and has often found himself sliding back in the races. You don't lose talent overnight, but the sheer gap between himself and Rea is difficult to fathom. Ironically, Neukirchner's desperate lack of pace on the bike has prompted most to assume the bike is at fault, meaning he will hopefully have a better chance of landing elsewhere in 2011 than he would if he'd had a merely average season.
19. Chris Vermeulen – Kawasaki SRT (10 points): D
It's difficult to grade Chris Vermeulen's season as it was over before it had started. His crippling knee injury in Australia prevented us from seeing what the former WSBK runner-up was capable of on the Kawasaki. Prior to that he and Sykes had been fairly even on pace, but now we will have to wait until 2011 when hopefully the MotoGP race winner is back in full fitness.
20. Broc Parkes – Echo CRS Honda (9 points): C-
Having lost his ride with Kawasaki, Broc Parkes was given another chance on the Superbike stage, albeit with newcomers Echo CRS Honda. Now the only other Honda rider on the grid beyond the Ten Kate boys, Parkes has often bridged the gap between the back markers and the mid-field. Not far off the pace of Neukirchner, it seems Parkes has a long way to go before breaching anything higher than in and around the late teens.
21. Roger Lee Hayden – Pedercini Kawasaki (7 points): C-
A surprise addition to the World Superbike grid pre-season, Roger Lee Hayden has done as well as he can with the Pedercini Kawasaki. While the team doesn't seem on the verge breaking out of its tail-ender position, Hayden has made the best of his bike and has generally shown himself to be faster than team-mate Baiocco – who was a top ten runner on a Ducati towards the end of 2009. Potential, but hard to see where he goes from here.
22. Matteo Baiocco – Pedercini Kawasaki (3 points): D
Keeping his foot in the World Superbike arena, Matteo Baiocco has scored this season but when the competition seems limited to Hayden and Parkes, there is only so much he can achieve. His brief performances for Guandalini Ducati last year showed he is solid at this level, but he is unlikely to repeat that on the Pedercini Kawasaki.