2011 Champion Carlos Checa has given his insight into the current WorldSBK season and Ducati’s title-fighter Alvaro Bautista.
Eleven years on from his Superbike success, Checa is still the sole Spaniard to have claimed the trophy and the last on Ducati machinery, so is perfectly placed to analyse the man in charge of the standings after four rounds of 2022.
Bautista holds a 36-point advantage over Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea, and 79 over the defending Toprak Razgatlioglu, but the next venue on the calendar is the six-time champion’s home race at Donington Park.
“Honestly, I think it’s great,” Checa confirmed after Bautista equalled his victory tally of 22 wins in Bologna red at Misano last time out. "Alvaro is one of the best riders and, as a person, is super nice and friendly. I am delighted that he is succeeding.
“I’m not going to go into comparisons. My time was completely different from his, I had a totally different motorcycle, I rode in a private team with the support of Ducati… what seems strange to me is that this has not been achieved before and that 11 years have passed. But, in the end, technical decisions are made, team decisions, if they are not correct enough, that means it is not possible to win those titles and those victories that Ducati was used to in WorldSBK.
“When a rider has been able to go so fast on that bike, like Bautista did in 2019, it’s likely that he can go fast when he comes back,” he continued, on the Spaniard’s return to both Ducati and the front of the standings in 2022. “Alvaro is super involved with the bike. He looks very sure of himself and is capable of taking the Panigale to limits that other riders are not capable of reaching.
"I think that has thrown both Jonathan and Toprak off a bit. They knew Alvaro would be competitive, but probably not that much, and I think the bike is also more competitive than the first year Alvaro was with it. It’s a winning combination. The start of the season has been fantastic, both for Alvaro and for the team.
“In the end, the job is always the same, test tyres, find the braking limits, try to turn better and accelerate faster. There is a set that allows you to do it one way and other packages that limit you a bit more. Now Alvaro has got on the Ducati, it’s a bike that accelerates very well and has a good top speed. He is small, which also makes for a very fast bike, and he can accelerate very quickly. It is a set of sensations that, in the end, give the rider that extra confidence to be able to push a little more, to turn and accelerate. And it seems that at the moment the one who does it best is Alvaro with the Ducati.
“I think he is very aware of what happened to him the first year,” Checa reflected on the rollercoaster fortunes of 2019 which saw Bautista run away with the first half of the championship before fortunes flipped and Rea sealed his fifth consecutive title by 165 points. “It is a lesson he has learnt very well.
"They will not make the same mistake, I think they will do whatever it takes to consolidate that union, work more calmly and ensure continuity because it is clear they are made for each other.
"You don’t have to look much further. To renew the contract if they have not yet done so in order to be calm and look forward.
“These two thirds of the championship that remain are going to be tough,” he admitted. “Everything is tight, and anything can happen. In WorldSBK, there are a lot of points at stake in each round and if you have a bad weekend, the favourable situation can go to waste.
“With the arrival of Toprak and Yamaha, it became a much more fought championship. In fact, he has been able to beat Rea, who was the great dominator. That period for so many years made me lose a little emotion. Now Jonathan has to apply himself to the maximum to be able to win again, and the good thing is that Alvaro has also arrived with Ducati.
“Now there are three riders, with three different brands. I think that is what the championship needed, which is now more alive and more interesting than ever.
“There are three great riders of a similar level fighting for results in each race… that has a very special appeal. I like to see it, there have been very good races. It is clear that they are all going to the limit. On a sporting level, I think it is one of the best championships in recent years, due to the equality that these three riders have. The three of them could perfectly be in MotoGP!”