BMW rider standings after 7 rounds, 14 races

Leon Haslam, BMW Motorrad - 6th Troy Corser, BMW Motorrad - 15th Ayrton Badovini, BMW Italia - 10th Lorenzo Lanzi, BMW Italia - 22nd (4 races) Barry Veneman, BMW Italia - 24th (2 races) James Toseland, BMW Italia - 26th (3 races)

For any manufacturer coming into a series as complete novices - as BMW did when they entered the World Superbike Championship in 2009 -, it's understandable that progress can, at times, be frustrating.

However, if BMW used 2009 as a learning year, 2010 as a chance to get a first podium and pole position, then surely 2011 was the season to be challenging for wins on a regular basis. On this front BMW have fallen short, though despite some cynical observations, all is not as dire as has been made out on occasion.

At this stage in the season, BMW have suffered a few poor rounds, magnified by the fact they have been beaten by satellite operative BMW Italia in recent races. However, Leon Haslam is currently sixth in the standings, himself and Troy Corser having bothered the top five on eight occasions - equal to last year's entire tally.

The key sticking point is consistency and not just between races - the bike can be at the top of the timesheets in one session, and be down in the mid-field just a couple of hours later.

A small set-up window and a determination by BMW to gradually develop, rather than try a series of different ideas in one go, means things haven't quite advanced as well as they would like - indeed, one weekend will be a step forward, followed by another step back.

Crossing over from Suzuki, Haslam has been strong on the bike, with two podiums rewarding a number of really impressive - if all too often defensive - riding displays. Having been its leading contender in 2010, Corser has struggled in 2011 and hasn't been helped by a series of injury woes, most recently his arm break. Some suggest he will retire at the end of the season, but the Australian is determined to see out this project.

Other plus points for BMW include their comfortable fourth position in the manufacturer standings, though it has been helped along by some impressive results by the satellite Italia outfit. A blessing and a curse in that it has boosted their points, but magnified issues with the factory operative, BMW Italia's performance is all the more impressive given it's been produced almost single-handedly by Ayrton Badovini.

Stepping up from the Superstock series, struggles with the bike initially, coupled to a long-term injury for star rider James Toseland, didn't represent an easy start to life for the team, but with the help of little-fancied Badovini, it has flourished in recent races.

Beginning with a top ten finish at Donington Park, Badovini has persistently lowered his personal best, culminating in a fourth place at Misano. Given he started the season in and around the top fifteen, it's measure of how far the combination has come.

Holding down tenth in the standings - well ahead of Corser -, Badovini has already managed nine top ten finishes and is seemingly on the ascendancy

With Toseland out of action, second rider duties have fallen to Barry Veneman, who scored in his home round at Assen, and Lorenzo Lanzi who finished just outside the top ten at Misano.