Checa: the 1199? I'm not worried
Is the new Ducati Panigale competitive or not? The web is filled with worried comments from fans, alarmed by the performances thus far in testing. But Carlos Checa, the man entrusted with the task of developing the new machine, doesn't seem overly concerned.
"I can go into the vacation feeling pretty relaxed - the Spaniard told GPone.com - The rain took away some testing time, but it was still a very positive outing. We came to some good conclusions, identifying the critical areas of the bike's chassis. This time I was able to clearly communicate my ideas to the team, and now it's up to the engineers. I'm highly confident they can find what we are missing. The engine? I'd like it to be more usable, and we lack a little top end power. Jerez isn't a power circuit, but even here we could see that we are lacking a little bit."
With the strong pace of Kawasaki, Aprilia and BMW, the fans are worried...
"They can be calm. Compared to the first outings, we have gotten a lot closer to the front. And we can't forget that WSBK is at a very high level right now; as you saw, the Aprilia was just barely slower than the MotoGP bikes. Aprilia have been racing with their bike since 2009, Kawasaki are in their fourth year, and BMW their fifth. We are just starting out with the Panigale, which isn't only a new bike but also a completely different concept. I honestly didn't expect to arrive so quickly at where we are now. So I'm optimistic. The Panigale's history has yet to be written, but in the end it will be victorious. From a personal point of view, it's a very exciting challenge."
What is next for the bike?
"Ducati are very quick to react, and I see that the factory is working very hard. I sense a strong determination to go forward. We have a very intense development program planned, and already at the next test (in late February, again at Jerez, ed.) we will have many other things to try."
The factory team has moved from Althea to Alstare: how has the transition been?
"It's a year of changes. The WSBK organizers have changed, the Ducati technical structure has changed, and then our team has changed. Genesio Bevilacqua couldn't reach an agreement with Ducati, and that's all there is to it. It's a situation I don't want to discuss further. I felt immediately good with Francesco Batta's team. They are very well prepared, they have an independant race department, and they will take an active role in development, working on some specific parts in Belgium. We are integrating quite well."
Translation by Sean Sedacca