Though it wasn't the race win contender it had hoped to beat the start of the 2011 World Superbike Championship, BMW is still celebrating comfortably its best season in the top flight as Leon Haslam sealed fifth in the riders' standings.

The German manufacturer came into the season with high hopes after poaching 2010 runner-up Haslam from Suzuki, but while the Briton did his utmost on the S1000RR, persistent set-up struggles cost them a chance at cracking the top three more regularly.

As it happens, Haslam scored three podiums, while his consistency on an occasionally difficult bike allowed him to finish the season in fifth overall, well ahead of BMW's previous best of 11th. It also helped BMW to fourth in the manufacturers' standings.

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Even so, after a disappointing outing in Portugal, where Haslam could only manage a ninth and 15th place finish, he is now looking forward to sampling the 2012 bike at the upcoming post-season tests.

"We knew that it was going to be a tough weekend and, as we had expected, we were struggling with the bike already in race one. From the first lap on we had to fight and it was a long, hard race. It was just about bringing it home and trying to get as many points as possible. We were in the top ten, so we improved from where we qualified.

"At the start of the second race I was struggling so much that I ran off the track. That put me way back. Throughout the race the consistency was a little bit better, but I lost the front quite often and the rear tyre had blistered. There were too many issues to get a good result. Now I am looking forward to the future and to the 2012 season, which starts on Tuesday with our test here."