28 November 2008
Carlos Checa – Q&A EXCLUSIVE
Carlos Checa embarked on a new chapter in his career in 2008 after bidding farewell to MotoGP in favour of a top line ride in the World Superbike Championship with Ten Kate Honda.
After a season in which he returned to prominence with two race wins, seven podiums and fourth in the overall standings, Checa spoke to Crash.net about 2008, his switch from MotoGP and his hopes for next year…
This was your first season at World Superbike level – have you been satisfied with your results this year?
Actually, I'm really quite satisfied with the results this year. We've had some good races and some not so good, but we have learned a lot. We've learned about a new bike, I've learned new tyres, new circuits, a new team, new race strategies - all in a new championship with new rivals. There has been a lot to learn so I should be happy with how it went. Of course, we started the season with the target of winning the championship, but we knew that would not be easy.
How much have you enjoyed racing in the World Superbike Championship this year?
I've enjoyed this championship a lot. My last two years in MotoGP were not so exciting but here everything's been new and we've been racing at the front and taking victories again. I enjoyed winning also at the Suzuka 8-hour race with Ryuichi Kiyonari so it would seem that riding the CBR1000RR at the moment is suiting me very nicely. I have enjoyed this season more than any of the previous four or five, so I'm happy here and enjoying the championship very much.
Describe your feelings when you won both races in the United States? Was there a sense of relief mixed with the joy?
I didn't quite realise at the time how happy I would feel about it, but it was a great moment for me. We had some problems before race one and had to go out on the spare bike. Although the settings were the same, the feeling was quite different, so to win that race was very special. I like racing in America and I hadn't won any race for quite a while, but the feeling didn't really sink in until a few days after. Then it became a big motivation for me to continue to try to be successful - it was such a great feeling. A really special moment for me.
Other than that, what do you consider to be the highlight of your season?
For me, this season hasn't been only about winning. It's been more about what I've learned about myself. I've made mistakes this year, of course, but I've learned from them and I feel that I've really grown this year. I feel so much stronger now - I've learned new things about myself, as well as the bike and the team and the championship. And, maybe more importantly, I've really enjoyed myself as I've learned. As long as that continues, I'll be very happy.
Looking back at the season, are there any areas where you think you could have improved?
Yes, consistency. And that applies to the team, as well as to myself. It's vital for good results and I know that next year, we can all improve - me, the bike and the team. It's consistency in the way we work together and that will bring consistently good results on the track.
You seem to have found the transition from MotoGP to WSBK to be quite seamless, more so than some other MotoGP riders – from your point of view, how much of a change has it been?
It hasn't really been that big a change for me - I'm still racing. But many things have changed for me during the course of my career - 125s, 250s, 500s, two strokes, four strokes. I had the chance to ride the CBR1000RR at Suzuka so I knew what to expect of the bike. I have to say that the start of Superbike races are more aggressive in the first couple of laps, but racing is the same for me really. Competition is competition, and the target is always to be as fast as possible. The Superbike machines are a bit less technical than in MotoGP, with fewer things to adjust and less electronics. The bike is simpler really, but I like that - it allows for more rider input and puts more responsibility on the rider.
How difficult a decision was it to make the switch from MotoGP to WSBK?
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