Carlos Checa

Editor's Blog: Putting Suzuka Back On The Map

Once upon a time, the Suzuka 8 Hour race was a big deal. A very big deal. It was the race the Japanese factories sent their very best riders to compete in, the event often being written into the contracts of the top Grand Prix and World Superbike riders as part of their factory deals. The list of big names to win the race is impressive. Wayne Rainey, Eddie Lawson, Mick Doohan, Wayne Gardner, Daryl Beattie, Aaron Slight, Doug Polen, Scott Russell, Noriyuki Haga, Colin Edwards, Daijiro Kato, Alex Barros, Shinichi Itoh, Tohru Ukawa, Taddy Okada. And of course Valentino Rossi. There, they faced the very best of the Japanese Superbike riders, as well as the regulars from the World Endurance Championship, of which it forms a part.

It may have been an honor to have been asked to do the race, but the GP riders were far from keen. Held in July, the race fell right in the middle of the Grand Prix season. Racing in the event meant multiple flights to Japan for testing and practice, then the grueling race itself in the oppressive heat and humidity of a Japanese summer. It meant doing the equivalent of four Grand Prix in the space of eight hours, then rushing home to get ready for the next race. The best case scenario meant they started the next Grand Prix event tired and aching from Suzuka. The worst case was a crash and an injury that either kept them off the bike or left them riding hurt. The only benefit was that it kept the factories happy, and marginally increased a rider's chances of extending his contract with the manufacturer for a following season.

Gradually, the race fell out of favor, and more and more riders had clauses added to their contract specifically excluding them from being forced to race at Suzuka. Mick Doohan was one of the early absentees. Valentino Rossi did it twice, won it the second time around, and swore never to race at the event again. It was simply too demanding for a rider chancing a championship. In the early years of this century, the race languished in relative obscurity. The name of the event still echoed in the collective memory of race fans, but it passed without much comment. Except in Japan, where it remained the pinnacle of the JSB season, and the battleground for the Japanese manufacturers.

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Ducati Press Release: Carlos Checa Completes Three-Day World Superbike Test On Panigale R

After Carlos Checa made a brief return to riding, participating in a three-day test of Ducati's Panigale 1199R World Superbike machine, Ducati issued the following press release on the test:

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Alstare Split With Ducati In WSBK, Looking To Aprilia?

After just one year of a two-year deal, Alstare and Ducati have agreed to terminated the contract the Belgian team has to run Ducati's factory World Superbike effort. Today, the two parties made it known that they would not be continuing their collaboration, citing financial problems for Alstare and the loss of a major sponsor.

The split had long been expected. Alstare team boss Francis Batta had made no secret of his unhappiness with both the collaboration with Ducati, and the performance of the Ducati 1199 Panigale. Alstare had former WSBK champion Carlos Checa and highly rated Italian Ayrton Badovini in their ranks, yet after a solitary pole at Phillip Island, results have been very poor. Ducati ended the season without a win in World Superbikes for the first time in the history of the series. Batta had asked Ducati many times throughout the year to be allowed to do more development work, but Ducati had rejected his requests. Motorcycle technology had advanced to such a point that it had become almost impossible for a private team to have the resources to be successful, Ducati had told Alstare, and it was now the task of the manufacturer to do the development of a racing motorcycle.

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Carlos Checa To Retire From Racing

Carlos Checa is to retire from racing. The 41-year-old Spaniard had been forced to skip the last four rounds of the 2013 World Superbike season after crashing heavily during practice at the Istanbul Park circuit in Turkey, fracturing his pelvis. That injury and the lack of a strong offer for the 2014 season caused Checa to decide to retire.

Checa's final season had been a very hard one, the Spanish veteran struggling to get to grips with the Ducati Panigale, while the Alstare team battled Ducati over the lack of development for Ducati's flagship superbike. After a solitary pole at the first race of the year in Phillip Island, Checa's season proved to be fruitless, not managing a single podium and scoring just 80 points, putting him currently 15th in the standings. Checa had held talks with both his former team Althea Racing and with Kawasaki, but after Kawasaki re-signed Loris Baz to race alongside Tom Sykes, Checa felt his best option was to retire.

Checa's career had been a long one. Checa first entered Grand Prix racing in 1993, where he spent half a season in 125s and then in 250s. Checa soon graduated to 500s with some success, winning two Grand Prix and scoring a total of 24 podiums. His best championship finish was 4th place in 1998, riding a Movistar Honda.

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Carlos Checa To Miss Remainder Of 2013 World Superbike Season

Carlos Checa's World Superbike season is over. The former champion had a massive crash during free practice on Friday morning, and was immediately diagnosed with contusions on his chest and a suspected fractured left scaphoid. Those injuries were enough to keep him out of the race, but upon examination back in Spain, he was also found to have suffered a fractured pelvis. That injury means Checa is forced to miss the rest of the 2013 World Superbike season.

Though the official communique speaks only of 2013, a fractured pelvis could potentially end his career. It was a fractured pelvis that eventually ended the career of former Ducati legend Pierfrancesco Chili. Chili broke his pelvis in 2005, and though he returned from that injury, he was never truly competitive again, his pelvis lacking the flexibility and strength necessary for racing a motorcycle. With Checa turning 41 in October, there will be doubts over how strong he will be after his return, even if surgery to fix the injury is successful. And with Checa still locked in negotiations over his future, teams could be wary about offering him a contract.

The official Ducati press release on Checa's injury appears below:


Carlos Checa (Team SBK Ducati Alstare) out for the rest of the Superbike season due to injury

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Scenes From Down Under: Andrew Gosling Shoots WSBK At The Island


Carlos Checa answers the question: Will the Ducati Panigale be competitive?


Althea switch to Aprilia after falling out with Ducati. The bike is as beautiful as ever


The wrist Tom Sykes fractured in testing is only slowing the Yorkshire man up a little


A Brit racing Supersport on a Yamaha R6: good enough for the title the last couple of times

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