Kawasaki rider standings after 7 rounds, 14 races

Tom Sykes - Kawasaki RTS - 13th Joan Lascorz - Kawasaki SRT - 14th Roberto Rolfo - Pedercini Kawasaki - 17th Chris Vermeulen - Kawasaki SRT - 19th Mark Aitchison - Pedercini Kawasaki - 20th

One of the more interesting developments ahead of the 2011 World Superbike Championship season was the arrival of the new Kawasaki ZX-10R, a bike tasked with turning around the fortunes of a manufacturer that has for some time now footed the overall standings.

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Half a year in and it is still rooted to the bottom of the table... But there are signs that it is poised to ascend into the upper echelons of the field soon.

Extensive pre-season testing and positive noises coming from its riders gave the impression the bike would be a potential podium contender, but in the reality of a race environment, it has struggled to turn that promise into results.

Disappointing showings at Assen and Monza slowed its progress, but Tom Sykes's pole position at Misano has kick-started a run of good form in recent races and the overall results make for better reading than in previous years.

Indeed, though Kawasaki is the only manufacturer yet to reach the podium this season, Sykes has come close, while Lascorz's Superbike initiation is now beginning to deliver some results too. With a bike that appears to be improving with every round, 'team green' is now well placed to get that podium and possibly even scale both Suzuki and Honda in the manufacturer standings.

As for the riders, Sykes has taken advantage of his contract extension to lead Kawasaki's charge. The pole position aside, Sykes has cracked the top six three times this season, though accidents from similar positions at Donington Park and Motorland Aragon should see him higher than 13th in the overall standings.

Though he has adopted a much quieter approach and doesn't appear to have been a match for Sykes in terms of raw pace this season, Lascorz is actually just three points behind his team-mate now, with two top five finishes. Given his injury woes, this has been a solid transition for the Supersport front runner.

A welcome - if belated - return to action for Chris Vermeulen has yielded some encouraging results recently, including a top ten finish at Misano, though it remains to be seen whether the Australian can get back to something near his best any time soon.

Taking advantage of the updated machinery, Team Pedercini may still be considered the WSBK tail-enders - thanks mostly to the lack of similarly privateer rivals this season -, but riders Roberto Rolfo and Mark Aitchison have delivered better-than-usual results for the Italian outfit, including the latter's top ten finish at Assen.