Carlos Checa says reigning World Superbike Champion Max Biaggi will be 'the man to beat' when the 2011 season gets underway in just over two months time, though he suspects there will be several riders in the mix come the start of the year.
The Spaniard heads into the 2011 season spearheading Ducati's slimmed down effort, Checa having been rewarded for taking himself and the privateer Althea Racing to three wins and third in the overall standings in 2010.
As such, Checa is being touted as a title favourite in 2011, though the man himself is expecting competition to come from several sources, from Biaggi and Jonathan Rea, to newcomers Eugene Laverty and Marco Melandri, while the former MotoGP rider even identifies Kawasaki as something of an unknown quantity.
Despite this, Checa is confident he can be amongst the front runners from the off in Australia, twelve months on from when he took a shock victory for the Italian team.
"Biaggi is definitely the man to beat,” he told Bikeracing.it
. “Marco will not surprise anyone if he proves to be fighting at the front, Eugene Laverty has already shown he has what it takes to be able to stay with the leaders.
"As for Honda's Jonathan Rea, he has shown already this year to fight for victory, only to get injured in the season finale. "
"We'll see if Haslam will be able to bring the BMW to the front - personally I think he has quite a job to do. Then you will have to keep an eye on the Kawasaki, Haga on the Aprilia... We just hope we can do a season as players and be able to fight for the championship."