World Superbike: Checa seeks more Utah success
Tooele • Reigning World Superbike champion Carlos Checa is fourth in the 2012 season-point total standings.
He's come to the right place, however, if he wants to start climbing the ladder.
Checa has always fared well at Miller Motorsports Park, which plays host to the North American round of the FIM Superbike World Champion series this weekend.
Practice starts Saturday, with Superpole qualifying Sunday. Two 64-mile races will be Monday at noon and 3:30 p.m., respectively.
Checa, a 39-year-old Spaniard, has four wins in the four years World Superbike has stopped in Utah, including a double victory last year. He's been the pole-sitter three times.
Coming off a disappointing performance two weeks ago at Donington Park in England, Checa hopes to resume his quest for back-to-back world championships at one of his favorite courses.
"I have always enjoyed the atmosphere at Miller the people, the mountains and the layout," Checa says. "The track suits my riding style, and I have many great memories."
At Donington, Checa finished sixth in the first race. He was involved in a multi-bike crash that prevented him from finishing the second race.
"We lost ground in the classification," Checa said, "so we definitely need a strong weekend now."
With nine Superbike World Championship rounds remaining, Italy's Max Biaggi leads the points race with 128.5.
Tom Sykes of England is five points behind in second, while Northern Ireland's Jonathan Rae is third with 108.
Checa sits in fourth place, 25 points behind Biaggi, who told Crash.net this week, "The race in the USA is always a special round because it's different than the classic structure of the European rounds. [But] I like this track. It's very technical."
Biaggi, the 2010 world champion, is one of six drivers to win a race this season.
Asked about the unprecedented competitiveness in World Superbikes, he said, "This year things have become complicated. There are more contenders ... and staying up front has become more and more difficult. But we have the potential to do it."
There are two American riders in the field.
Utah's Shane Turpin received a wild-card invitation to compete and eagerly accepted. He will ride a Ducati 1198R motorcycle for Boulder (Colo.) Motor Sports.
According to the 44-year-old Turpin, his chance in World Superbikes is the culmination of a career that has spanned more than two decades.
"This is all I do," he said. "This is what I've done my whole life. I love it. I enjoy it. My father had me on a motorcycle before I was on a bicycle. So it's been an incredible journey."
Jake Holden, a veteran road racer from Puyallup, Wash., will race for Team Grillini Progea.
"I'm very excited to race," Holden said. "Miller Motorsports Park has been one of my favorite race tracks in the U.S. This race will be a new experience for me, but I have dreamed of racing in WSBK ever since I started." FIM Superbike World Champion series
Here is Saturday's complete schedule at Miller Motorsports Park:
8 a.m. • AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport practice
8:45 a.m. • World Superbike technical and sporting checks
8:55 a.m. • AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SuperBike practice
9:50 a.m. • AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike practice
10:45 a.m. • AMA Pro V&H XR1200 practice
11:45 a.m. • World Superbike free practice
12:30 p.m. • Pit walk
1:30 p.m. • AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike qualifying (1)
2:25 p.m. • AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike qualifying (1)
3:30 p.m. • World Superbike qualifying practice
4:25 p.m. • AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport qualifying (1)
5 p.m. • AMA Pro V&H XR1200 qualifying (1)
This weekend's schedule for the North American round of the FIM World Superbike Championship at Miller Motorsports Park:
8:45 a.m. • Technical and sporting checks
11:45 a.m. • Free practice
3:30 p.m. • Qualifying practice
9:45 a.m. • Qualifying practice
12:30 p.m. • Free practice
2:45 p.m. • Opening ceremonies
3 p.m. • Superpole qualifying (1)
3:20 p.m. • Superpole qualifying (2)
3:40 p.m. • Superpole qualifying (3)
9:20 a.m. • Warm-up
11:30 a.m. • Opening ceremonies
11:40 a.m. • Sighting laps
Noon • Race No. 1 (21 laps, 64 miles)
3:10 p.m. • Sighting laps
3:30 p.m. • Race No. 2 (21 laps, 64 miles)
Five World Superbike riders to watch this weekend at Miller Motorsports Park:
MAX BIAGGI, Italy, Aprilia Racing Team • Born in Rome ... 40 years old ... 2010 World Superbike champion ... Has won 17 wins in 137 career races ... Season points leader ... One win and two runner-up finishes in nine starts ... Finished second in one race and crashed in the other at Miller Motorsports Park in 2011.
CARLOS CHECA, Spain, Althea Racing • Born in Sant Fruitos de Bages ... Turns 40 on Oct. 15 ... 2011 World Superbike champion ... Has won 23 of 117 career starts ... Four wins in nine races this year ... Fourth in the season standings ... Has four victories in four years at Miller Motorsports Park, including a double-win last year.
TOM SYKES, England, Kawasaki Race Team • Born in Huddersfield ... Turns 27 on Aug. 19 ... In three previous seasons, one win and two Superpoles in 76 races. ... This season, two wins and four Superpoles in eight races. ... Second in the season standings ... Finished sixth and 10th last year at Miller Motorsports Park.
SHANE TURPIN, USA, Boulder Motor Sports • Utah native ... 44 years old. ... Instructor at the Miller Motorsports Park-Yamaha Champions Driving School ... Multiple regional and national titles in various classes since 1994. ... Accepted wild-card invitation into this year's WSBK event ... Will race a Ducati 1198R this weekend.
JAKE HOLDEN, USA, Team Grillini Progea • Lives in Puyallup, Wash. ... Turned 29 on May 5 ... Joins Turpin as the only other American in the field. ... Started racing professionally when he was 16 ... Has competed in the Superbikes Class of the AMA Pro Road Racing series since 2000 ... Rides a BMW 1000 RR bike this weekend.
Ticket prices for this weekend's World Superbikes at Miller Motorsports Park:
Saturday • $35 for adult general admission, $40 for adult grandstand seating, $5 general admission for children (6-12), $10 grandstand seating for children (6-12).
Sunday/Monday • $40 for adult general admission, $50 for adult grandstand seating, $5 general admission for children (6-12), $10 grandstand seating for children (6-12).
For information • 435-277-7223