Ducati is exited to report a great start to the World Superbike Championship, winning three out of four races and taking the lead in both the rider and manufacturer championships.
Carlos Checa took his Althea Racing Ducati 1198 to a double podium on Sunday in the second round of the World Superbike Championship at Donington Park, with a third place in race one and a well calculated victory in race two strengthening his series lead.
Jakub Smrz secured his first ever podium position with a career best second on his Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing Ducati 1198, extending the Manufacturers’ championship lead and underlining Ducati’s strategy of private team support.
Starting from an impressive pole position set on Saturday, Checa lacked “feeling” from his rear tyre in the cold Donington Park conditions. Slipping back to eleventh position by the end of lap one, he gradually found his rhythm and was able to chase down the leading group on his Ducati 1198, passing first Troy Corser (BMW), then Jonathan Rea (Honda) and Leon Camier (Aprilia).
Up to fourth place by lap 19, Checa’s determination saw him lap below 1m 30 seconds for the final three laps to secure third position just before the finish line. Czech Republic rider, Jakub Smrz clinched his first ever podium position with a rewarding second place, having dominated much of the race on his Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing Ducati 1198.
Carlos Checa and his technicians changed their set-up to a softer tire for the second race and with a higher track temperature made a great start, quickly passing Leon Haslam (BMW) to take the lead and increasing the gap between him and the chasing pack.
With the risk of the soft tire choice becoming an issue during the final stages, Checa carefully controlled the race taking the chequered flag with a well-calculated 3.3 second advantage over Marco Melandri (Yamaha).
Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati 1198R) says: “In the first race I was struggling at the start. I didn’t have feeling with the rear tyre and as a result I lost a lot of positions, but I have to say it was one of the most exciting races of my career! After the first laps I was able to build up a good rhythm and start moving up through the pack one rider at a time. It wasn’t easy but I pushed hard and then two laps from the end I realized that I could maybe get past Haslam for third.
“I’m really happy because I didn’t think I’d get from eleventh on lap one to the podium. We made the decision to use the hard tire for the race and even though we paid for this at the start it turned out to be the right decision in the end. We opted for the softer tire in race two even though we knew it would perform a bit less towards the end of the race.
“It remained pretty consistent but towards the end I had to change my riding a little to manage the situation. My strategy was to get to the front, built up a bit of a lead and then manage that lead and today, everything worked perfectly.”
The early season results so far highlight Ducati’s continued commitment to their World Superbike strategy of supplying 1198 technical support to private teams while concentrating on the development of their Superbike product. The highly competitive series moves to the Dutch track of Assen on April 17.