British contenders James Toseland and Carl Fogarty today begin a two-week drive to revive their title campaigns after scraping through a turbulent first round of the World Superbike Championship at the weekend.
Toseland will seek to regain full fitness before testing his Xerox Ducati in Spain on 3 March after a high-speed crash during tests contributed to his two sixth places on the Losail circuit in Qatar.
The Suzuki riders Yukio Kagayama and Troy Corser each won a race, and Kagayama now holds a 25-point lead over Toseland, the reigning world champion.
"I'm joint fifth, which is not what I wanted but at least it's solid," Toseland said yesterday. "Towards the end of the second race I was lapping as quick as the leaders. But after my crash I needed some dry practice time and I just didn't get it.
"We haven't been able to try everything we wanted and that made the whole weekend difficult. I'm disappointed but I know I could have been out for a couple of rounds after the crash, so I'll take these results any day."
Fogarty, the four-times world champion who now owns the Foggy Petronas team, will try to find some more power from his troublesome FP1 machines for the Valencia tests and the second round of the championship in Australia on 3 April after the two bikes could muster only one championship point between them on the 3.35-mile desert circuit.
The Australian Steve Martin finished 15th in the first race, but was robbed of a similar position in the second round by an engine failure.
"I thought it would be a struggle to gain points here as the boys haven't had too much time on the bike," Fogarty said.
"But we now have a lot of good things to test at Valencia and I'm looking forward to the next round."