World Superbike: MMP Interviews Checa
2011 World Superbike
Miller Motorsports Park will again host the USA Round of the FIM Superbike World Championship on The BigM Weekend, May 28-30.
Leading up to the round at Miller, we will visit with race winners and other notable riders participating in the championship after each race during the 2011 season and bring you a new chapter in the "Five Questions with" series.
Our first subject is Spain’s Carlos Checa, who rides the No. 7 Althea Ducati 1098R. Checa, known affectionately throughout the paddock as "El Matador," won both races in the first round of the season on February 27 at Australia’s Phillip Island circuit.
He swept both races in the series’ inaugural visit to Miller Motorsports Park in 2008 and would have repeated the feat in 2010 but for mechanical trouble that sidelined him while leading both races.
1. Quite a season-opening weekend for you in Phillip Island; you basically dominated the field in both races. What makes the combination of you and your Althea Ducati so strong at Phillip Island, and do you think you can continue this level of success throughout the 2011 season.
Carlos Checa says: "Well, the chassis of the Ducati is good for Phillip Island as there are fast sections and the bike is stable when changing direction, etc. You can keep a high speed also when the bike is angled. I like the track, but that’s not enough of course. What I mean is, I like left-hand tracks such as Miller and Phillip Island. The strong point for Ducati here is power delivery and the chassis."
2. You have seven career wins in World Superbike. Six of those (Miller 2008, Imola 2010, Phillip Island 2011) have been double-wins on the same weekend. You might have had two more but for mechanical heartbreak at Miller last year. Do you find it unusual that you seem to win in pairs, and why do you think that is the case?
Carlos Checa says: "I have also had single wins, of course, like Phillip Island last year. But if you are superior on any given weekend and conditions are similar for both races, I think winning both is feasible.
"It all depends; sometimes I do one good race and then crash in the other! At Miller I won both as I had good pace and could maintain that level all weekend; conditions remained similar for both races, as did the tires. To win both, your riding level needs to stay high and you need to manage both races well."
3. You and your team were quite strong in 2010. You seem stronger yet in 2011. What is different about your bike, your team and yourself in 2011?
Carlos Checa says: "I have been improving since the beginning of last year. There have been a few changes in personnel. I now have a new engineer and new electronics man, and a few small changes to the bike like the new front fork.
"But the main difference is that we are more experienced, having learned a lot last year. We made good progress during 2010 and are now in a good position. We now have the same bike weight as the others, and a little more power than last year, so that helps too."
4. You obviously do well at Miller Motorsports Park, with two wins in 2008 and two DNFs while leading last year. What is it about Miller Motorsports Park that makes you so fast here? What are your favorite and least-favorite corners here? What other racetracks does it remind you of?
Carlos Checa says: "I like Miller very much because there is good grip and it’s a left-hand track! I like the whole first section best, so corners 1, 2 and 3. There is high braking, you have to roll the bike, there are high-speed direction changes and turn 3 is a fast left. The whole section is fast and fun. There is no corner that I don’t like. I think I go well there as I can interpret the track well and control the bike well in certain sections."
5. What racetrack have you never raced on that you would like to, and why?
Carlos Checa says: "That’s a difficult question. Ones that come to mind, like the road track around Barcelona and the old Nurburgring, are great in theory and when someone mentions them I think it would have been nice to race them, but these are of course not feasible tracks for Superbike racing! I haven’t raced at Daytona, either…."
The May 28-30 BigM Weekend at Miller Motorsports Park will include the USA Round of the FIM Superbike World Championship, plus support races from AMA Pro Road Racing including the National Guard Superbike Championship, the Daytona SportBike Championship, the Vance & Hines XR1200 Championship and the Larry H. Miller AMA SuperSport Challenge.
There will also be a rock concert on Saturday night, May 28, and a major tribute to our armed forces in recognition of Memorial Day.
To obtain tickets for or information about The BigM Weekend, visit the event-specific website at BigMWeekend.com. For information regarding Miller Motorsports Park, call 435-277-RACE (7223) or visit the track’s website at MillerMotorsportsPark.com.