Carlos Checa – Q&A EXCLUSIVE

After I rode the bike at Suzuka and after the 2007 season I had in MotoGP, it wasn't a difficult decision at all. The fact that I was being asked to ride for the Ten Kate team by Honda made it a very easy decision. I really felt I'd come to the end of the MotoGP stage of my career and that I was ready for a new challenge in a new environment with a really strong possibility to win. It's been a great move for me.
Do you consider WSBK a side-step, rather than a demotion – has your opinion changed as the season has progressed?

I don't really want to make that sort of judgement. The most important thing for me is to learn from what I do and to love and enjoy it. It's been fantastic for me to be at the front fighting for the title. It's really for other people to make comparisons between championships. Of course, it's been a different situation, but for me it's been a much better situation. As long as the rules are clear for the manufacturers in World Superbikes, the championship will be strong. I'm happy that this is not my area of responsibility but, with two new manufacturers coming to the championship in 2009, it's surely going to grow bigger and stronger. The new rules for Superpole are good and everyone working in the WSBK paddock is focused on making the championship better.
You were reportedly offered a deal to return to MotoGP in 2009 – how tempted were you by that prospect?

My intention was always to continue in WSBK in 2009 - it's just that when those stories were circulating, we hadn't finalised an agreement with the team for next season. But, as long as everything was OK with the Ten Kate guys, I was always going to stay. Of course, it's nice to have other offers but I really wanted to continue here. I had been in different teams for different seasons recently and consistency is really important. We had a new bike, with new tyres on new circuits in a new championship this year. So, I had to stay and try to put what I've learned into improving the results even more next year.
Would you prefer to compete with a top team in WSBK than risk an unknown quantity at MotoGP level?

There's no comparison really. I'd had my years in MotoGP and that part of my career is over. I am really happy where I am - it's really the best situation for me.
As a former team-mate of Valentino Rossi, how well do you think he would fare in WSBK racing?

Valentino is a very talented rider. It doesn't matter if he's riding 125s, 250s, 500s, 990s, 800s, and it wouldn't matter if he was riding a superbike. Wherever he rides, he would be very strong and be riding at the front.
We recently ran a story suggesting WSBK lap times could be comparable with some MotoGP riders next season, depending on the regulations. Do you think both series are heading in the right direction?

We'll see how that goes next season but, for me, the lap time is of no consequence - it's really not important. It's better for everyone that the championship is balanced and competitive and that the spectators on TV and at the circuits watch some really good battles. They get that with WSBK and I believe that the one-make tyre rule will bring a little more balance to MotoGP but, for me, nothing will change for next year. I will simply try to be as fast as possible!
You are the highest classified rider to be sticking with the same team in 2009 – how comfortable are you with being regarded as a favourite for the title - is winning the title the ultimate aim?

Yes, of course, and nothing has changed in that respect. I think I was one of the favourites to win the championship this year, but we have already talked about how hard that was going to be with a new bike and new tyres, etc. I don't yet know how strong my rivals are going to be, especially those in new teams, but the only thing I can do is concentrate on myself and my team and our performances. We have to get to the start of next season at the highest possible level, but we don't know if Biaggi and Haga will be really strong at the start also. I have a good chance to win next season and that is a really big motivation for me and I really want to do it.
What will be your approach to racing in 2009?

The same as it has always been. But next year I will have more experience and knowledge to use in this championship. And with more testing than last season, I will be feeling motivated and strong. Well, to be honest, to have less testing that last season would be impossible - we had none! So, of course, we will be stronger.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Checa, Portuguese WSBK 2008
Ronald Ten Kate, French WSBK 2015
Pata Honda mechanic wheels rims to get Pirelli Tyres, U.S. WSBK, 2014.
Ronald Ten Kate, Misano WSBK 2015
Max Biaggi (ITA), Aprilia, World Superbike [Credit: Aprilia]
Robert Watherston, Head of motorsport at Honda europe, British WSBK 2015
Robert Watherston, Head of motorsport at Honda europe, British WSBK 2015
Robert Watherston, Head of motorsport at Honda europe, British WSBK 2015
Tom Sykes (GBR), World Superbike [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Sylvain Guintoli (FRA), World Superbike, [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Randy de Puniet (FRA), World Superbike [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Nicol Terol (ESP), World Superbike [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Nicol Terol (ESP), World Superbike [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Niccolo Canepa (ITA), World Superbike, [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Michael van der Mark (NED), World Superbike [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Leon Haslam (GBR), World Superbike, [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Leon Camier (GBR), World Superbike, [Credit: Ian Hopgood]
Jordi Torres (ESP), World Superbike [Credit: Ian Hopgood]

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