Pramac Racing made official what everyone has known for weeks; Carlos Checa will replace Mika Kallio for the final two races of the MotoGP season.Kallio had been underperforming since suffering a shoulder inuury at the French Grand Prix in May. Why it took so long to replace him was a question many had asked. But they finally made the move, tabbing the former Ducati Marlboro rider to pilot the Pramac Racing Ducati Desmosedici this weekend in Estoril, Portugal and on home ground the following weekend in Valencia, Spain.Checa last raced in MotoGP in 2007, finishing the season 14th in points, the second worst of his MotoGP career; he was 15th in 2006. And he was 16th in 1995, his first year in the 500cc World Championship. His best finish in the GP’s was fourth in 1998, a year in which he won one of his two 500cc victories, aboard a Honda NSR500 in Catalunya. His other win came in Madrid in 1996.Following the 2007 season Checa moved to World Superbike to join the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team. The highlight of that season was his double victory at Miller Motorsports Park, his first and second WSB victories. He finished the year fourth overall. The following year he stayed with the team and finished seventh. This year he moved to the Althea Racing Ducati team and finished a career best third to Max Biaggi and Leon Haslam, winning three times, first at the opening round at Phillip Island and then by sweeping both races in Imola.Now he’s back in MotoGP for a two-shot deal, knowing that he’ll return to Althea Racing Ducati in 2011. He arrives in Estoril having recently successfully tested a Ducati Desmosedici at Mugello. He joins a team which hasn’t had much success this year. Kallio’s best was seventh in Jerez before he injured his shoulder. Teammate Aleix Espargaro has finished eighth twice in his rookie season, including in the most recent race in Phillip Island.By pairing the rookie Espargaro with the veteran Checa, the team now has both ends of the age spectrum. Checa recently turned 38 while Espargaro is 21.Checa will run 71 on the green and white Pramac Racing Ducati because 7 is taken by Interwetten Honda MotoGP’s Hiroshi Aoyama.”After three years is a great pleasure for me to return in the MotoGP world; here I have some wonderful memories,” Checa said. “So many things have changed over three years ago, both in the mechanical of the bikes and in the MotoGP world, but many others had remained unchanged. I know I should not expect too much because the Ducati Desmosedici GP10 is very different from the bike which I had run this year, but I know many of my next opponents and I will do my best to fight shoulder to shoulder with them to try to finish these two races with positive results.”
Checa Confirmed on Pramac Racing Ducati
Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor
Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.