Reigning World Superbike champion Carlos Checa says he is happy to continue racing the Ducati 1198 this season, rather than the factory's new 1199 Panigale model.
During a 'Five questions with...' media feature presented by Miller Motorsports Park, Checa was asked about Ducati's decision not to homologate the 1199 for WSBK this year and instead debut the new machine in Superstock.
“Well, we already have 6kg extra on the 1198 in line with 2012 SBK regulations, so if we had brought the new bike to the track, I guess we would have been penalised to an even greater extent!” replied Checa.
“I think Ducati's strategy to race the 1199 in the Superstock championship before moving into the SBK championship in 2013 is a good one, as it gives them more time to 'fine-tune' it, just like they did in 2007 with the 1098.
“From a personal point of view, I was very comfortable with the 1198 in 2011 and, together with this bike, I took the SBK title - so I admit I was a little wary of changing to the 1199, which seems to be a very different bike.
“I've heard great things about it, but I haven't ridden the 1199 yet so I can't say any more, but from what I've heard it definitely sounds like the potential is there!”
Checa is fourth in the 2012 WSBK championship after suffering a big highside while leading race one, then taking victory in race two.
WSBK has introduced a one-bike rule to try and reduce costs this season. As a result, Checa said his team had to “work like crazy” to get him back out for the second race.
“Although the [one bike] idea is for teams to cut costs, each team still needs to have enough parts to build a 'second' bike from a rolling chassis in case of emergency,” said Checa.
“Maybe people thought that riders would go more carefully and there would be less crashes, but look how many crashes there were just at Phillip Island! So I don't know how much money teams are really saving.
“Sessions have been spaced out to give teams a fighting chance of repairing any crashed bikes in between, but it's not easy. I crashed in Race 1 at Phillip Island, and my boys worked like crazy to build a new bike for me for Race 2!”
Round two of the 2012 championship, currently led by Aprilia's Max Biaggi, takes place at Imola on April 1.