Carlos Checa has confessed he was originally treating his switch to the privateer Althea Ducati team for the 2010 World Superbike season as a 'year to have fun', rather than become a consistent race win contender.
Following two years with Ten Kate Honda, during which time he took two victories, the former MotoGP race winner announced he was joining Althea Racing – who in turn were switching from Honda to Ducati – at the end of 2009.
While the track record of the Italian team in two years of WSBK racing, coupled to the expected transition period of changing bikes, kept expectations modest heading into the season, a remarkable race win at the Phillip Island season opener indicated 2010 would be anything but mediocre.
Since then, Checa has established himself as Ducati's top representative with three more podiums, while he was unlucky to miss out on a double win at Miller Motorsports Park.
His performance has come as a surprise to even him, Checa suggesting he joined the minnow privateer team in an attempt to 'enjoy' his racing away from the high pressure surroundings of a factory-backed outfit.
“We didn't expect that [to be the top Ducati team], “ he told Crash.net
. “When you consider Haga and Fabrizio finished second and third last year, plus you have all the manufacturer teams and we're a privateer team, I thought 'it is a year to have fun, to ride the bike differently, to have a nice experience, meet new people and try to enjoy it…' Perhaps this approach made me happier and freer on the bike!”
Currently fourth in the standings, while Checa and his Althea team have been fairly vocal about the Ducati's crippling lack of straight-line speed this year, the Spaniard maintains the recent weight reductions have minimal effect.
“It isn't a big difference. We couldn't remove 3kg anyway. We are riding with maybe 1.8kg less than the other races, but it is too expensive and difficult to remove the weight, so it's not possible. I don't believe that 3, 2 or 1kg, if it's in the right position on the bike, should make a big difference.
“At this point, my feeling is that the season is going very well. At this moment, we realise we are struggling a bit with the long straights, but we will see what we can over the next few races and fight for the podium.”