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Carlos Checa profile

By Dan Moakes
June 22 2003

Carlos Checa
nationality · Spanish
born · 15 October 1972
grand prix début · 1993

“El Toro,” as Carlos Checa is known, is one of the most experienced men currently competing in Grands Prix, and has race wins from the Mick Doohan era to prove it. Although he has demonstrated impressive speed on numerous occasions, Carlos is also prone to the odd mistake, and is therefore not the most consistent rider. He may not always have had the best bike under him, but in four years on a works Yamaha he went without a victory, whilst his team-mate won eight times. There are days when he is tough to beat, and he is probably one of the best wet weather racers in the world, but he just needs to find a way not to beat himself on the days when nobody else looks capable

1989
Made racing début, on a Honda

1990
7th in Spanish 80cc championship, with Honda and Rieju

1991
Spanish 80cc Champion, on a Rieju

1992
8th in European 125cc championship, on a Honda

1993
3rd in Spanish Open 125cc championship; World Championship 125cc and 250cc débuts
Riding a Honda 125, Carlos’ first GP was at Barcelona in mid-season. His number 63 M.C.Manresa-Petrocat machine came home seventh, and he was immediately rewarded with a 250 GP machine for the last six races of the year. Daytona-Pit Lane Racing ran him on the number 38 Honda, and he finished fourteenth and then ninth in the final two races. Nine points in each category left him 27th (125) and 23rd (250) for the entire season

1994 Givi Racing, number 23 Honda
This season marked Checa’s first full campaign in the 250 class, and he finished in the top twelve on seven occasions. The best of these were a seventh at Laguna Seca, and a ninth in Barcelona. He finished twelfth overall with 54 points

1995 Fortuna Honda Pons, number 12 Honda (both in 250cc and 500cc)
In only his third year in grands prix, and after racing in the first eight 250 races of the season, Carlos found himself elevated to the 500cc class for five races. With two fourths and a seventh already under his belt, and some second row qualifications, Checa stayed within the same team but moved up onto the race winning bike of the injured Alberto Puig. In Barcelona he qualified third, and ran an impressive race to pass several of the top men and establish a good lead. Unfortunately, he managed to crash out later on, but had established his 500 credentials. He finished thirteenth (45 points) in the 250s, and sixteenth (26 points) in the 500s

1996 Fortuna Honda Pons, number 24 Honda
Retained as a 500 rider, the 1996 season marked Carlos’ first GP victory. Also coming at Barcelona, this was Honda’s 100th win in the class, and he beat works riders Doohan and Àlex Crivillé into second and third on the day. Overall, Checa also managed six more top eight results, and was eighth in the points on 128

1997 MoviStar Honda Pons, number 8 Honda
This was a more consistent season for the Spaniard, with four sixths, a fourth, and second places in France, the Netherlands and Catalunya. However, there were still a handful of no-scores, and this saw him finish up eighth again, with 119 points in total

1998 MoviStar Honda Pons, number 8 Honda
A great start to the season saw Checa win at Járama, and also take a second, a third, two fourths and a fifth, as well as his first pole position. After seven rounds he was lying fourth in the championship, but just twelve points behind leader Max Biaggi. Then at Donington he suffered the most serious crash of his career, resulting in a splenectomy, and it ruined his season. He came back for the last five races, but could do no better than sixth place. Although he just held onto fourth overall, with 139 points, Carlos was actually 121 down on champion Doohan at the finish

1999 Marlboro Yamaha Team, number 4 Yamaha
For 1999, Checa was signed as team-mate to Biaggi in the works Yamaha squad, and started by finishing second in Malaysia. After that, the best he could do was finish fourth in Germany, Australia and Argentina, and other results took him to seventh overall on 125 points

2000 Marlboro Yamaha Team, number 7 Yamaha
Qualifying on the front row for five of the first seven events, Carlos had a very consistent early season. After six races, he was level on points with pace-setter Kenny Roberts, thanks to four second places. After that there were only two more top six positions and, although he ran third in Valência, fourth in Río and first in Australia, he managed to slump to sixth in the final table, on 155 points

2001 Marlboro Yamaha Team, number 7 Yamaha
2001 was a year of highs and lows for Checa, and he was only on the front row once. However, he was a strong second in France, and managed the same result in Germany. The Valência race saw him start from the pitlane and, in mixed conditions, come right through for a close fourth. Without a spill on the warm-up lap, he might have blitzed the field. Río saw him second again, but only because Valentino Rossi reeled him in on the last lap of a two-part race, to win by 0.143s. Checa was seventh equal for the season, on 137

2002 Marlboro Yamaha Team, number 7 Yamaha
A more consistent season saw Carlos on the front row six times with the new four-stroke M1, but still a further victory eluded him. Particularly notable were his wet weather recovery rides, following poor starts, in both Portugal and Brazil. In the first of these he finished an impressive second, after recording only the second pole position of his career, but in Río he managed to fall off just as he reached the front. He also fell when leading at Donington, but still recorded three thirds, two fourths, and three fifths, ending the year fifth on 141 points

2003 Fortuna Yamaha Team, number 7 Yamaha
Remaining in the same squad, albeit with a new sponsor, Checa has become the leading Yamaha man for the first time. To date, the YZR-M1 has struggled to match the Honda runners, but the Spaniard has reached a best finish of fourth so far


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