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Globetrotting Checa ready to return to Australia

Globetrotting Checa ready to return to Australia

Globetrotting Checa ready to return to Australia

After spending the entire Grand Prix season travelling the world, many of the MotoGP riders enjoy the opportunity during the off-season to relax at home in their native countries and catch up on their free time amongst family and friends. However, with the increasing importance of winter testing and mounting pressure to improve results in one of the most competitive World Championships on the planet, holidays are a long forgotten luxury for many of the teams and riders.

In the last three weeks along Carlos Checa has visited Malaysia and Australia for a key batch of tests and travelled briefly to his home in London before heading to France to continue his physical training programme. At the end of this week he will be back on a plane for the next set of tests at Phillip Island. The Spaniard discussed his hectic schedule with before revealing his impressions of the changes at Yamaha since the arrival of Valentino Rossi and the progress they have made together during this 2004 preseason.

"At the end of the last test at Phillip island I stayed on a few days in Australia for the launch of the new Yamaha R1 at Eastern Creek," explained Checa. "Then I headed back to London because I have just moved into a new house in Parliament Square - which is very close to Hyde Park and St James Square so it's a really nice area to out jogging. Obviously I have been going to the gym regularly as well and I just spent three days in the south of France in Aix Les Termes doing some cross-country skiing with my personal trainer, Jaume. On Thursday I am flying back down to Melbourne, where I'm planning on visiting a motorshow and watching the Formula 1 before our next test at Phillip Island next week."

"Things have changed quite a lot in the team. For a start we're wearing new colours and have new sponsors. Rossi's arrival has brought new people into the team as well as a bigger budget and more engineers. At the end of the day all this contributes to taking the team to a higher level and there is no doubt that this is to my advantage. Obviously things are going well for Rossi – he has adapted well and quickly to the Yamaha and he is setting quick times. As far as I am concerned, I am only too aware that the first race is in South Africa and that is where the points are dished out. I am not trying to say that Rossi won't go well there – quite the opposite."

"I am working with the new chassis and the truth is that I'm still not comfortable with it yet – I'm just trying to get it the way I like it and we're working on it. I am also waiting for a new engine, which I'll have for the MotoGP test at Barcelona at the end of the month. We made a few changes to the bike at the last tests, tried out a lot of new components and now we will just have to see how they all fit together in Australia and at Catalunya."

Checa admitted his he conscious of the times Rossi is setting, and the impact they are having in the media, but not concerned. "Rossi is the World Champion and I think it is quite logical that he should set good times. I am trying out different things to develop the bike, as are Rossi and Abe. In Sepang and Australia we were working with the new material, but at Phillip Island I had more problems than you would normally expect and my times weren't too good. There is still over a month until the start of the championship and my objective is to be ready for the first race. I am not concentrating on setting spectacular times, I would say I give relative importance to that. The compromise we have found so far is not the best but I can't do much more right now. I think the test next week and at Catalunya will give us a much clearer idea of the actual situation."

Much has been made of Rossi's requests for more horsepower, but Checa insists every rider has his own specific demands. "I haven't asked for more horsepower – what I want is to be able to distribute the power we have better and find the best way to improve corner entry so that the front end is not dictating the rear. That is the character of this bike but it is a point that needs to be improved – to give the front wheel better contact with the ground."

MotoGP, 2003, Carlos Checa

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