October, 05 2012
The 2012 Superbike World Championship (WSBK) goes down to the wire at this weekend’s final race at Magny-Cours, France, with riders Max Biaggi, Tom Sykes and Marco Melandri locked in a three-way tussle for the title.
One rider who knows all about winning a championship on the last day is Carlos Checa. Winding back one year, the Spaniard - in scintillating form with six pole positions and 15 race wins - was heading to the very same French circuit needing only three points to clinch his first WSBK Championship. He duly delivered the goods over the weekend, winning both races and dominating the field from the front.
No wonder then that the Althea Racing rider has fond memories of Magny-Cours, even though it is a rather different story this year. No longer in contention for the title Checa has only a slim chance of finishing second or third (his position in 2010) in the standings. So this time around he is riding for pride.
“I have great memories of this track in 2011,” said Checa. “It would be nice to round off the year with a podium place but as we have seen at recent rounds that is no easy task for us.”
Regardless of the championship placements up for grabs, Checa will give it his best shot on what could be his last outing on the Ducati 1098R, if rumors about the team switch to the 1199 Panigale in 2013 are to be believed.
“I am not thinking about the points or the final classification, I have taken it one race at a time and so will continue to do that this weekend, putting all my efforts into finishing the 2012 season in the best way we can,” Checa said.
As well as keeping one eye out on the top three this weekend, Checa will also have to look to his rear, as Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty breathe down his neck in fifth and sixth place respectively.
Rea has had a dream season, which has included an historic win at the Suzuka 8 Hours and a temporary call-up for MotoGP duty as a replacement for injured Casey Stoner, for which he has rightly garnered much praise.
But Rea has enjoyed mixed fortunes at Magny-Cours in recent years, finishing on the podium in his first WSBK visit in 2009, but struggling the next year with a wrist injury and in 2011 crashing and experiencing technical problems.
“I’m really looking forward to going to Magny-Cours this weekend,” said the 25-year-old Honda rider. “I really like the Magny-Cours circuit though and I hope to have a couple of good races to complete the amazing journey that I’ve been on these last few weeks.”
Rea added: “It’s not just the last few weeks – 2012 has been an unbelievable year for me, both professionally and personally. I’d like to get it finished properly and then get home to recharge the batteries and get myself motivated again to start pre-season testing and prepare for 2013.”
Similarly, Laverty arrives at Magny-Cours in good cheer after a double first at Portimao, where he recorded his first WSBK victory and his first win for the Aprilia team.
Laverty’s recent form has helped the Italian team get the upper hand in the manufacturers’ championship (Aprilia leads by 28.5 points ahead of BMW) and he is hoping to continue this fine form on French soil.
“I’m within reach of achieving 5th overall so that is my aim for the weekend,” said Laverty. “It was a huge relief to win in Portimao and it was nice to reward the team for all their hard work in turning our season around. Another victory would be great.”
Magny-Cours World Superbike Championship Schedule Friday 5 October, 11.45-16.15 Free practice and Qualifying 1; Saturday 6 October 09.45-15.45 Qualifying 2, Free practice, Superpole 1,2 and 3; Sunday 7 October 09.20-15.30 Warm-up, Race 1 and 2