Few GP riders have more experience of racing on home tarmac than Carlos Checa who gets to race three times a season in front of his home fans, and for good measure, gets a fourth outing on the Iberian peninsula at September's Portuguese GP. The Spanish get more than their fair share of GP events because the nation is nuts about motorcycle racing and crazy about Checa too. As Spain's number one rider the affable 29-year old can count on massive support this weekend, when he aims to continue his superb start to the first-ever MotoGP World Championship.

Checa goes into round three of the series lying second overall after a brilliant ride to third in the season-opening Japanese GP, for which he'd qualified on the front row, and a dogged ride to fifth in South Africa two weeks ago. On Sunday the YZR-M1 rider wants another podium finish, not just to boost his series position but also to give his legions of fans something to cheer about.

"It's Spain, I'm Spanish, so this weekend is a big deal for me," he says. "Also I like the track, every part of it, I think it's one of the most enjoyable circuits we use because there's a good variety of corners and you're working with the bike all the time. It's exciting."

Checa is indeed working hard with his bike because the awesome M1 is the fastest, most powerful machine he's ever raced. And he's not only toiling on the track, he's also heavily involved with the bike's off-track development. As one of the new breed of MotoGP four-strokes, the M1 has only just started its racing career, and it is part of Checa's job to help Yamaha improve and develop the bike as fast as possible.

"Although I'm happy with the job we've done so far, I won't be really happy until we're fighting for race wins," he says. "Everyone at Yamaha and within the team is working very hard and I know the M1 will get better. The good thing at Welkom was that the bike's performance was very stable all the way through the race, now we just need to increase the level of performance. We will work very hard on settings at Jerez because it's a technical track where you need the bike to be set up very well, so you can turn, flick and open the gas as quickly as possible. It's also hard on braking and at the moment that's one of our weaker areas, so we'll be working on that too. I really want to be quick at Jerez, so I've also got to find the way to ride the bike as fast as possible."

Antonio Jimenez, Carlos Checa's chief engineer is also confident that Checa perform well: "Carlos did a great job at Welkom. He rode at his maximum from the first lap to the last, he never gave up, not even under great pressure from McCoy and Katoh," says the Spaniard who has been friends with Checa for a dozen years. "At Jerez we'll work with what we've got and though we're close to the maximum of our current spec, I think we can make further improvements by making a better job of combining our chassis set-up with the engine-braking system. That's our target for Jerez. And while we continue to work on set up the most important job for Carlos is to keep giving good feedback to the Japanese so that they can continue developing the M1."