Portimao (Portugal), Sunday 16th October 2011: Carlos Checa and the Althea Racing team, World Superbike Champions 2011, closed the season in the best possible way today with a spectacular win in Race 1, Carlos’ 15th victory of this more than impressive year.
Carlos, second on the grid, was in fifth position at the end of the first lap, while his team-mate Davide Giugliano lay in eighteenth place. On lap three Davide had already made up a couple of positions and was in fifteenth and Carlos was up into fourth, chasing down Melandri for third. Unfortunately a small mistake by Giugliano caused him to lose several positions on the seventh lap and he had to recommence battle from twentieth position. Checa meanwhile closed the gap on Rea, passing him on lap twelve and moving into second place. It didn’t end there, as lap after lap the newly crowned World Champion gained on race leader Guintoli. Three laps from the end he got past the Frenchman, to cross the line in first place, 2.8 seconds ahead of Sylvain.
The second race got off to a similar start for Carlos who was fourth at the end of lap one. Despite his best efforts, a change of tyre between the two races didn’t allow him to push as he had done in race one. He held fourth position for the entire race, getting close to Rea, Melandri and Laverty but unable to pass them. He closed the final race of the 2011 season in fourth position. Davide made a better start in this race, and was thirteenth after the opening lap. He made a small mistake which cost him a couple of positions but he then fought back, passing first Fabrizio and then Haslam to take fourteenth place on the seventeenth lap. In the final phase, and thanks to some fast laps, he was also able to pass Corser and Smrz to close his second ever SBK race in twelfth position, and earning three championship points in the process.
Carlos Checa closes the 2011 Superbike season as World Champion, with a total of 505 points. During the season he has accumulated 15 race victories and a total of 21 podium finishes. He will stay with Althea Racing and Ducati for the 2012 season, an agreement having been reached just this afternoon at the Portimao track.
Carlos Checa, 2011 World Superbike Champion:
“Race 1 wasn’t at all easy because at the start I was having trouble with the tyre but we knew that it would perform better in the final stages and our decision turned out to be the right one. I was able to reach first Marco and Johnny and then Sylvain to win the race with a small advantage. This victory is for the team that has truly deserved it this weekend – I dedicate this win to all of them. In race 2 I was pushing hard but we’d changed tyre and with the softer solution I couldn’t do more than I did. This weekend has been very special; before Race 1 it looked like there was no way that I could stay with Althea Racing in 2012 and I was very upset about this but now it seems that Althea Racing and Ducati have come to an agreement and I am over the moon to hear that I can stay with my team and with my bike again next year. We have built something very special here and to leave would have been heartbreaking. More than a win, today has been a moral victory – in the space of two days I have lost, and thankfully regained my team.”
Race 2 went very well apart from a small mistake on my part; if it hadn’t been for that I could have done even better, Anyway I kept a good pace and was able to lap as fast as many of those ahead of me and I am pleased about that. The first race was very difficult but I realize that I need to gain experience as this category is certainly of a much higher level than the Stock 1000! I wasn’t able to make the best start in race 2 but I’ll work on this over the winter. We also changed tyre between the two races and this helped me a lot in the second. I thank my whole team of course, Genesio, and my engineer this weekend, Ernesto Marinelli, for all their hard work.”
Genesio Bevilacqua, General Manager of Althea Racing:
“Many things have changed between yesterday and today and I have waited before talking simply because of these uncertainties. We remained hopeful but it was a complicated issue especially on an economic level. In the end we were able to convince everyone to find an agreement that would keep the team together and this was of course the greatest news for me. Carlos stated a while ago that he wanted to stay with us and we of course wanted the same outcome so this positive agreement has been reached with Ducati and he’ll be with us again next year, faster than before.”
Ernesto Marinelli, Superbike Project Director - Ducati:
“I am extremely happy that this agreement, which we never stopped working towards, has led to the confirmation of Carlos in the Althea team for 2012. Ducati has had to make a big effort in order for this to happen, a sign of the affection we have for Carlos, for Genesio and for the whole Althea Team, that has given us this truly incredible result, one that we hope can be replicated in future years.”
RESULTS: Race 1 – 1. Checa (Ducati); 2. Guintoli (Ducati); 3. Rea (Honda). Race 2 – 1. Melandri (Yamaha); 2. Laverty (Yamaha); 3. Rea (Honda)
CLASSIFICATION: Riders – 1. Checa (Ducati) 505; 2. Melandri (Yamaha) 395; 3. Biaggi (Aprilia) 303; 4. Laverty (Yamaha) 303; 5. Haslam (BMW) 224; 6. Guintoli (Ducati) 210; 7. Camier (Aprilia) 208; 8. Haga (Aprilia) 176... 28. Giugliano (Ducati) 3 Manufacturers – Ducati 529; Yamaha 450; Aprilia 422; BMW 275; Kawasaki 228; Honda 194; Suzuki 169