Carlos Checa insists he remains motivated to unlock the full potential of the new Ducati 1199 Panigale, despite a difficult start to its racing tenure during the 2013 World Superbike Championship.
As with its predecessors, the much vaunted Panigale spent a year in development ahead of its racing debut the following season, but while the 999 and 1098 were race winners out of the box, the 1199 has struggled to break out of the mid-field during the opening five rounds.
Matters haven't been helped by lead rider and 2011 WSBK champion Checa injuring himself during the opening round at Phillip Island – where he had qualified on pole position -, while a persistent shoulder complaint has also ruled him out of the Monza and part of the Donington Park events.
With this in mind, Checa accepts the 1199 Panigale's start to life hasn't been ideal for various reasons, though he admits there are clear limitations when compared with the bike's rivals.
“The bike is a new concept, completely different,” he told Crash.net
. “We have some limitations and on the engine side, at fast tracks, it's quite in evidence. However, other areas are my main focus, such as braking, turning and exit. The way the power arrives, the way you brake, the way you turn and the speed you can carry is what makes the difference. What is clear is we are not comfortable and not in the best condition to challenge the top guys.”
With the Ducati being prepared by Team Alstare, following a fall-out between Althea Racing and Ducati over the winter, Checa says he remains committed to the project of bringing the bike up to speed, but laments he cannot predict how long it will take.
“We know where our rivals are and the where we are losing, so now there is a road to follow, but it is not a short road or an easy road. I am motivated to find the improvements. It's a new challenge and a new bike, but I cannot tell you how much time it will take.”