Former World Superbike Champion and MotoGP race winner Carlos Checa has confirmed he is retiring from motorcycle racing after 20 successful years at the highest level of competition.

The Spaniard made the announcement at his home circuit of Jerez, where the final round of the 2013 WSBK season is being held, confirming rumours of retirement just three days after turning 41-years-old.

The runaway World Superbike Champion on the Althea Ducati just two years ago with an incredible 15 wins in 26 races, Checa has struggled to match that form since, suffering with an ageing Ducati 1098R in 2012 and unable to make the new 1199 Panigale competitive in 2013.

More decisively, Checa's season has been blighted by a series of crashes and injuries, notably a spectacular accident at the Phillip Island opener that left him briefly unconscious, while an ongoing shoulder problem would hamper him for several events too.

With a crash at Istanbul Park leaving him with a hip fracture that would end his 2013 campaign four rounds early, speculation swiftly arose that Checa may have already competed in his final race. Indeed, though Althea Racing was keen to lure Checa back into its fold for 2014 and Kawasaki had signalled their interest too, Checa has instead opted to hang up his leathers for good. It is a decision he hasn't taken lightly.

"This year I am celebrating twenty years of racing at world championship level," he said. "I am extremely proud of this long sporting career, which has given me many special memories of all the teams I have worked with. I have had the opportunity to compete at the highest level, riding the best bikes and winning against the best rivals.

"My aim has always been to discover my limits and to be able to take a close look at myself in order to continue to learn, grow and become a better rider and a better person. This is something that would not have possible without taking this path, full of risk, but which has also provided me with great challenges, adversaries and emotions; a long climb which culminated with my best season in 2011.

"There is a moment that will always arrive in the life of a sportsman, the day on which you say enough is enough. This day has arrived for me today. It was not an easy decision, but one that I've thought long and hard about. I am grateful to the entire motorcycle family, to those who make it possible for this world to exist and especially to those who have supported me and followed me from the start, for having given me the opportunity to pursue my dream and live a life that I wouldn't have changed for any other.

"I will now move on to discover new things about myself, a new and stimulating phase now begins for me in Ducati. It will take time to adapt but I am confident about my future and the satisfactions that it will surely continue to give me. Thanks again to everyone for being here to support me on what is a very special day for me, definitely emotional but also unforgettable."

Despite the disappointing conclusion to his career, Checa can nonetheless look back on his time in the sport fondly as one of the few riders to win races at GP and WSBK level.

Making his 500GP debut in 1995, Checa competed in 12 consecutive 500GP/MotoGP seasons, notching up 194 starts, two race wins - both on home soil in Barcelona and Jarama -, 24 podiums, three pole positions and five fastest laps.

For 2008, Checa made the decision to join the World Superbike Championship as the high-profile replacement for exiting champion James Toseland. Quickly proving competitive, Checa scored two races wins on the way to fourth in the standings in only his first year.

After a disappointing campaign with Honda in 2009, Checa switched to privateer Ducati machinery in 2010 and emerged as a surprise front runner on the little-fancied Althea Racing-prepared machine, scoring three race wins en route to third in the standings.

That effort would go on to be a prelude to a dominant 2011 campaign that he led from the start, Checa finishing off the podium in just five races and accumulating 15 victories.

Though his four wins in 2012 aboard a bike he felt was being unduly hampered by performance-levelling weight gains would prevent him from defending his title, Checa stuck with the manufacturer for its much anticipated introduction of the 1199 Panigale in 2013. However, despite flashes of pace - namely a surprise pole position on its debut at Phillip Island -, set-up woes, costly crashes and painful injuries have made 2013 one to forget.

Even so, Checa's results still make him one of World Superbikes' most successful riders with a total of 24 race wins, 49 podiums and 10 pole positions. It puts him seventh on the all-time winners' list (higher than Biaggi), despite having started fewer races than all-but-one rider ahead of him.



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