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Carlos Checa - 2005 Rider Profile

Ducati Marlboro 2005 | Ducati Racing History
Carlos Checa

Carlos Checa lines up for his first World Championship season for the Ducati Marlboro Team in 2005 with renewed enthusiasm as he completes his first decade as a full-time premier-class Grand Prix rider. In the past ten years, the Spanish rider has scored two victories (Catalunya GP in 1995 and Madrid GP in '98) and obtained 14 podium finishes.

Determined and motivated, Checa signed for the Ducati Marlboro Team late last year and immediately started to set a cracking pace when he began testing with the team during November.

One of GP racing's most friendly and affable riders, away from racing Carlos prefers the outdoor life, naming mountain trekking, climbing, snowboarding and the occasional parachute jump amongst his off-track interests.

Carlos Checa's passion for motorbikes was passed down to him by his father, who was also a keen motorcyclist until he broke a leg while rushing to the hospital where Carlos was about to be born! Carlos eventually jumped onto his first bike at the age of nine. In 1984 his grandfather gave him a Derbi 80 motocross bike and three years after that he was the proud owner of his first street bike, a Honda NSR75.

Checa soon became a keen spectator at local racetracks and started racing after his father suggested he channelled his energies into the sport. He made his debut at the local Can Padro track during the summer of '89 and tumbled out of his first race. Helped by an enthusiastic gang of friends, Checa quickly improved. During 1991 he swapped the NSR for a Spanish-made Rieju 80 and won the national Criterium title. He also made a clean sweep of the local Catalan series, taking pole position, victory and fastest lap at every round.

In '92 Checa quit his mechanical engineering studies to contest the 125 European Championship. He set out across Europe with a van and a home-tuned Honda RS125 - a big adventure for the wide-eyed teenager and his mates. He rode well and learned plenty, ending the year eighth overall.

The following year he concentrated his efforts on the high-profile Spanish Open series, finishing an impressive third. His breakthrough ride came at the European Grand Prix at his local Catalunya track, where he finished seventh after a long tussle with multi-World Champion Jorge Martinez. That result won him the attention of several teams and a few months later he was called up by an Italian 250 team, taking two points-scoring finishes.

In '94 Checa switched to a 250 Honda, while the following year, after a brilliant 4th place on a 250 Honda provided by Sito Pons, the Spanish asked Carlos to substitute the injured Alberto Puig on a 500 Honda.

He made an impressive 500 GP debut in Britain, running with some of the fastest riders until he was rammed out of contention. He scored eighth, seventh and eighth-place finishes at the next three races and was out front and running away with the season-ending Catalunya GP until he crashed.

Carlos Checa started 1996 well with his first podium in Malaysia but it was only when the GP circus returned to Catalunya later in the season that he had found the speed he had been looking for. He won the race ahead of champ Mick Doohan and was greeted atop the podium by King Juan Carlos.

His second 500 season was full of 'ups and downs'; despite a string of good results - three seconds, a fourth and four sixths - he also crashed out of several GPs.

In 1998 a superb win at Jarama and podium results in Malaysia and France put him in a strong position to challenge for the title. Then it all went wrong at Donington Park, where he fell at speed, suffering internal injuries including a ruptured spleen. While recovering in hospital he suffered a relapse, losing his sight and suffering partial paralysis for 19 hours. Within seven weeks he was racing again, taking a heroic seventh place at the Czech GP.

In '99, on his first time out for the Marlboro Yamaha Team Carlos was a superb second, but for much of the remainder of the year he was deeply involved with adapting his YZR500s to his style.

His 2000 season started brilliantly. Checa took three runner-up results from the first four GPs to lead the World Championship. He stayed in contention for the title until a mid-season tumble left him concussed and lacking confidence, relegating him to sixth overall. The following year he climbed the podium on three occasions and ended the last-ever 500 season with a stirring ride to second at Rio, just a fraction behind World Champion Valentino Rossi (Honda).

In 2002 GP racing went four-stroke and Checa switched to Yamaha's new YZR-M1 MotoGP bike. Heavily involved in developing the new machine he enjoyed several great rides, taking pole position in Portugal and backing that up with a brave ride to second in soaking conditions. He scored three more podium finishes in 2002 but the 2003 season was less kind, yielding a best of several fourth-place results. Last year, with more performance from his machine, he scored his third premier-class pole position and achieved a best of second place at the French GP.

  • Born: October 15 1972 in St. Fruitos de Bages, Spain
  • Lives: London, England
  • Marital status: single
  • Height: 174cm
  • Weight: 69kg
  • Favourite sports: mountain biking, skiing, climbing
  • Outside interests: trekking, reading, movies
  • Favourite book: The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
  • Favourite band: U2
  • Favourite film: Gladiator/LA Confidential
  • Favourite place to party: "It's not where you party, it's who you party with. I like the simple life, just being with family and friends."
  • Best day of his life: "Catalunya '96, my first GP win, with King Juan Carlos on podium."
  • GP victories: 2 (500)
  • First GP victory: Catalunya, 1996 (500)
  • 500/MotoGP podiums: 21
  • First GP: Europe, 1993 (125)
  • Pole positions: 3 (2xMotoGP, 1x500)
  • First pole: Spain, 1998 (500)
  • 2005 - Ducati Marlboro Team rider - MotoGP World Championship
  • 2004 - 7th MotoGP World Championship (Yamaha)
  • 2003 - 7th MotoGP World Championship (Yamaha)
  • 2002 - 5th MotoGP World Championship (Marlboro Yamaha Team)
  • 2001 - 6th 500 World Championship (Marlboro Yamaha Team)
  • 2000 - 6th 500 World Championship (Marlboro Yamaha Team)
  • 1999 - 7th 500 World Championship (Marlboro Yamaha Team)
  • 1998 - 4th 500 World Championship (Honda)
  • 1997 - 8th 500 World Championship (Honda)
  • 1996 - 8th 500 World Championship (Honda)
  • 1995 - 16th 500 World Championship (Honda), 13th 250 World Championship (Honda)
  • 1994 - 12th 250 World Championship (Honda)
  • 1993 - 23rd 250 World Championship (Honda), 27th 125 World Championship (Honda), 3rd 125 Spanish Open Championship (Honda)
  • 1992 - 8th 125 European Championship (Honda)
  • 1991 - 80 Spanish Champion (Rieju)
  • 1990 - 7th 80 Spanish Champion (Rieju /Honda)
  • 1989 - First race (Honda)