Carlos Checa believes Ten Kate Honda can get amongst their Ducati and Yamaha rivals during the remainder of the 2009 World Superbike season as they embark on a steady return to prominence.
Champions with James Toseland in 2007, Ten Kate have endured an occasionally tough 2009 season with Carlos Checa, Ryuichi Kiyonari and Jonathan Rea at the helm, even if an anonymous start to the year is beginning to transform into something more notable.
Indeed, rookie Rea has led this revival, scoring his maiden podium at Kyalami before claiming victory at Misano, the Northern Irishman becoming the first rider outside Ducati or Yamaha to win a race this year.
Although he is yet to get on top of the podium, as he did twice in his maiden WSBK season last year, Checa believes Ten Kate's ascension, not to mention their lack of involvement in the title fight, could see them prove competitive over the remaining rounds.
“We know Ducati and Yamaha are the favourites, but we are getting close,” he told Crash.net Radio
. “This year we lost a lot of points at the beginning of the season, but Misano and Miller proved we are much faster.
“I don't know if we can beat them, but I think if we maintain the progress that we can catch them, while we won't have the pressure of winning the championship, so we can ride a little freer.”
For Checa, who is currently ninth in the standings with a best result of second place at Miller Motorsports Park, his sophomore season at World Superbike level has not gone to plan. Pointing out the increased level of competition this season, he acknowledges the growing importance of the 'small details'.
“Some of the new riders are very strong. Ben Spies, Jonathan [Rea] and Leon Haslam, so they level has gone up with these riders and the new bikes, so it is a tough championship to get in the top ten.
“It is going in the right direction – a grid of 30 riders, all very close. It means the small details are more important than before and things are very tough.”