Carlos Checa, aboard what was essentially a privateer Ducati (with some limited factory support), had a historic season en route to his title in 2011. Fifteen wins and twenty-one podiums, eclipsed the best campaigns posted by past champions Troy Bayliss and Ben Spies, for instance, and even more than the best year had by the the legendary Carl Fogarty. Riding superbly, and with supreme confidence, Checa has been asked by Ducati to help it develop the 2012 MotoGP bike. That bike, it was revealed today, is entirely new except for the front end (fork and steering components) and employs a twin spar frame that allows the engine to be moved fore and aft, as well as up and down, something the old frame design prohibited.
While Checa has already tested one of the earlier MotoGP prototypes for Ducati (concluding the tires were more to blame for Ducati’s failed 2011 season than the chassis), he will be the first to test the all new 1,000cc prototype at Jerez next week, even before Rossi and Hayden try the bike for the first time at Sepang two weeks later.
Checa has undoubtedly had some input into the design of the all-new chassis and engine specification, and it can be expected that he will be the major influence on the baseline setting that Hayden and Rossi both begin with at Sepang during their test.
Checa is a wily veteran at 39 years of age, and still rides superbly. His win record last season was compiled against very stiff competition including, among others, talented factory Aprillia riders aboard arguably the best bike on the track. After a lengthy MotoGP career, Checa is at the peak of his game despite his age. The fact that he has been aboard a bike with similar torque as the new 1,000cc MotoGP prototypes only adds value to his input.