Althea Racing has confirmed that Carlos Checa will return to its team for the 2012 World Superbike Championship season after a last minute intervention from Ducati prevented the Spaniard from defecting to BMW.
Just two weeks after winning the 2011 title together for the first time, Checa's future had been thrown into uncertainty after Ducati stalled on negotiations for 2012, hesitance that prompted a substantial offer to come from rivals BMW.
Indeed, rumours hinted that Checa was close to penning with the German manufacturer before Ducati intervened just in time to lend the financial support Althea needed to retain its new champion.
A big relief for Checa, who has publically stated his desire to stay with the Italian team, he is delighted to have sealed a deal that he admits didn't look forthcoming until race day in Portugal.
“This weekend has been very special,” said Checa, who won the first race at Portimao to make it 15 victories over the season. “Before Race 1 it looked like there was no way that I could stay with Althea Racing in 2012 and I was very upset about this but now it seems that Althea Racing and Ducati have come to an agreement and I am over the moon to hear that I can stay with my team and with my bike again next year.
“We have built something very special here and to leave would have been heartbreaking. More than a win, today has been a moral victory – in the space of two days I have lost, and thankfully regained my team.”
Checa's relief is reflected by Althea manager Genesio Bevilacqua, who reveals he had to 'convince everyone' to keep the team together for 2012.
“Many things have changed between yesterday and today and I have waited before talking simply because of these uncertainties. We remained hopeful but it was a complicated issue especially on an economic level. In the end we were able to convince everyone to find an agreement that would keep the team together and this was of course the greatest news for me.
“Carlos stated a while ago that he wanted to stay with us and we of course wanted the same outcome so this positive agreement has been reached with Ducati and he'll be with us again next year, faster than before.”
Indeed, Ernesto Marinelli says Ducati's commitment to Checa and Althea is their way of saying thank you for returning the manufacturer to the top in 2011.
"I am extremely happy that this agreement, which we never stopped working towards, has led to the confirmation of Carlos in the Althea team for 2012. Ducati has had to make a big effort in order for this to happen, a sign of the affection we have for Carlos, for Genesio and for the whole Althea Team, that has given us this truly incredible result, one that we hope can be replicated in future years.”