On the eve of the 2013 World Superbike finale at Jerez
, veteran motorcycle racer Carlos Checa
announced his retirement from the sport. The Spaniard dedicated 20 years to racing, the bulk of which occurred in MotoGP starting in 1993 before Checa successfully transitioned to the World Superbike ranks, going on to claim the 2011 SBK title for Ducati.
Checa's Grand Prix career started at the age of 20 when he raced to a seventh place finish in the 125cc class at Catalunya. The following contest at Mugello, Checa moved up to the 250cc ranks where he finished off the season. In 1995 he joined the premier GP class mid-season and finished 16th in the series. The following year Checa ranked eighth in the overall championship, taking three podiums and his first race win.
One of the most harrowing moments of Checa's career came at Donington Park in 1998 when a crash that at first appeared to be relatively harmless turned critical. Checa began to complain of pain the day following the incident and temporarily lost his vision. He was rushed to the hospital and ended having his spleen removed. Slightly over a month later, Checa was back on his bike to compete at Brno, where he finished in seventh-place. That year he ended fourth-overall in the series.
For 13 years Checa battled against the likes of Mick Doohan, Max Biaggi, Sete Gibernau and Valentino Rossi in the MotoGP premier-class but finally ceded his position in the series in 2008 when he moved to World Superbike.
In 2011, after three seasons of racing in WSBK, Checa earned the first premier-class world title of his career while riding for Althea Ducati. To-date he remains the only Spanish rider to have secured the title in World Superbike.
On October 15, 2013 Checa turned 41 years-old and four days later made his retirement announcement. The 2013 season was particularly difficult, plagued as it was by numerous accidents and a number of injuries that made it nearly impossible for him to ride to his full potential. In front of a packed house of journalists, colleagues and friends in the Ducati Alstare hospitality area at Jerez, Checa offered these thoughts.
“This year I am celebrating 20 years of racing at world championship level. I am extremely proud of this long sporting career, which has given me many special memories of all the teams I have worked with. I have had the opportunity to compete at the highest level, riding the best bikes and winning against the best rivals.
“My aim has always been to discover my limits and to be able to take a close look at myself in order to continue to learn, grow and become a better rider and a better person. This is something that would not have possible without taking this path, full of risk, but which has also provided me with great challenges, adversaries and emotions; a long climb which culminated with my best season in 2011.
“There is a moment that will always arrive in the life of a sportsman, the day on which you say enough is enough. This day has arrived for me today. It was not an easy decision, but one that I’ve thought long and hard about. I am grateful to the entire motorcycle family, to those who make it possible for this world to exist and especially to those who have supported me and followed me from the start, for having given me the opportunity to pursue my dream and live a life that I wouldn’t have changed for any other.
“I will now move on to discover new things about myself, a new and stimulating phase now begins for me in Ducati. It will take time to adapt but I am confident about my future and the satisfactions that it will surely continue to give me. Thanks again to everyone for being here to support me on what is a very special day for me, definitely emotional but also unforgettable.”
Ducati has already made Checa an “Ambassador” for the brand, which will allow him to continue working with the Italian marque in the years to come. Nolan helmets offered a commemorative 20th anniversary helmet to Checa soon after his announcement and officials at Jerez announced that it would dedicate a portion of its soon-to-be opened Hall-of-Fame to Checa as well.