2011 World Superbike Preview: Ducati

February 23, 2011
Matt Davidson
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Carlos Checa secured the fastest lap on Day 1 ahead of Sylvain Guintoli and Jakub Smrz.
Althea Racing will feature Carlos Checa (above), who set the fastest times during pre-season tests at Phillip Island. Also representing Ducati in 2011 is the Czech-based team of Jakub Smrz (below) and Sylvain Guintoli. 
Jakub Smrz proved to be the fastest rider in official pre-season testing at Portimao.

Ducati may be keeping its efforts in World Superbike alive, but with powerhouse Xerox Ducati absent from the grid in 2011 it will be a different landscape. The factory team pulled out of the 2011 championship due to rising economic costs, aiming instead to focus on its technical resources and product development. The private teams of Althea Racing and Liberty Racing will replace the factory squad in the upcoming season. Headlining Althea’s campaign will be Spaniard Carlos Checa, who claimed third in the 2010 standings behind Max Biaggi and Leon Haslam. With five career wins and 19 podiums under his belt, Checa looks to be in a highly-competitive state after dominating recent tests in Australia. It will be the 38-year-old’s fourth season in WSB as he still searches for his first world title. 
The Czech –based Liberty Racing team of Sylvain Guintoli and Jakub Smrz will also toss its hat into the ring using the four Ducati 1198 F10 bikes that Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio used during 2010. Guintoli will lead the team’s efforts after capturing seventh in the previous championship. For the past three seasons he’s been with Suzuki, but latest pre-season tests show the Frenchman adapting quickly to his new brand after running the second-fastest lap at Phillip Island.
Hailing from the Czech Republic, Smrz will also contend the 2011 season with Liberty Racing after claiming 13th in the ‘10 championship. The 27-year-old has yet to outdo his ’09 WSB season in which he placed 10th, but he’s been consistently posting strong laps with his new team in preparation for the upcoming season. 

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