In racing, there is no such thing as a sure thing. The world of competition breeds highs and lows like nothing else. It raises people up to their most euphoric highs, and can dash their hopes and send them into their darkest depths.
At the US round of the World Superbike Championship at Miller Motorsports Park this past Memorial Day weekend, the faces, in the moments before the race starts, reflect the glow of confidence, the awareness of chance, the cruel hand of fate.
In the first two photos, taken just moments before the start of the first Superbike race of the day, Spanish rider Carlos Checa sits on pole having enjoyed a solid two days of fast laps, breaking the track record, qualifying on pole position, and is beaming with confidence.
The third photo is of “The Roman,” Max Biaggi. He sits alongside Carlos Checa on the grid, having qualified in second spot. Perhaps a slight twinge of apprehension, as he is a man who likes to be fastest rider on the track.
In less than an hour, just a few laps from the checkered flag while leading, Checa’s Ducati would suffer a mechanical, resulting in a DNF, handing the win to Biaggi.
The fourth photo is of Checa just moments before the start of race two, after having suffered the mechanical DNF that robbed him of the win. Notice the slightly different expression.
Certainly, the disappointment of the first race was weighing on him. The fifth photo reveals the difference in attitude between the two riders when compared to the pictures just prior to the start of race one.
Unfortunately, fate wasn’t done with the Spaniard. In a carbon copy of race one, Carlos would lead the race, opening up a comfortable and commanding lead, only to have the gremlins visit once more. Checa’s Ducati sputtered to a stop, handing a double-win for the day to Biaggi.
Take another look at the pictures and understand the thoughts that must be going through their heads.