David Checa’s Bol d’Or heartbreak will serve as perfect inspiration when he contests the FIM Endurance World Championship season-opening 24 Heures Motos with ERC Endurance Ducati this weekend.
With 90 minutes of last September’s Bol d’Or remaining, the German team was seemingly on course for victory only to stop with a mechanical failure while comfortably in front.
For EWC legend Checa, that was a bitter pill to swallow after he and Xavi Forés had shared riding duties for a large part of the race due to Chaz Davies hurting his back and being unable to continue.
Despite the highly emotional scenes in the team garage as a near-certain victory slipped away, Checa regained his composure to return to the action for the last hour following rapid repairs by his team and took fifth place.
Speaking ahead of the new EWC season, Spaniard Checa said: “You never feel ready because endurance is special. Look last year in Bol d’Or, we never expected that Ducati can win the race, but we proved we was able to do. We had a little problem with the clutch, we repaired, we finished fifth, it was a really good race for us, we showed that Ducati can win and everybody believed in us. We must remember this.
“For this season we expect to do the best like every time. For me I am here to win, if I don’t win, I will say congratulations to the winner but my target, as it is for my team-mates, is to do the best result possible, to be world champion and this is why I am here. If I am not like this, I will stay at home.”
The 42-year-old continued: “It’s my 20th 24 Heures Motos. I have a lot of experience in endurance but I have the best and the worst. With Kawasaki in 2018, with Randy de Puniet, we was almost at the victory, one hour from the end with eight laps leading the race and we had an electrical problem and we lose the race. Also, with Yamaha, I had plenty of races like this, but this is endurance. Until it’s finished you never know.”
With Forés unavailable for the 24 Heures Motos due to his wife expecting their first child, German Philipp Öttl will return to the squad alongside Davies having also performed a substitute role for ERC Endurance Ducati in last year’s Le Mans event.
“Honestly I am so disappointed for Xavi because in the Bol d’Or last year we did a massive race together but he will be a father for the first time and there was a limit that it would be the same time as the race,” Checa said. “And this is why the boss decide to take another rider and Philipp for me was the best option because he knows the bike, he knows the track. He already did one year last year and did really well. But I don’t think about this, if we win I will be happy for everybody, I’m just disappointed for Xavi that he’s not here.”
Of the prospects of an ERC Endurance Ducati win on Sunday, Checa added: “The team works a lot in the weak points but you never know because in endurance you find the solution on one side but you find a problem on the other side. Look at Bol d’Or was a nightmare for a lot of teams, in four hours a lot of bikes were broken and normally they never break. Mechanical problems… you never know what can happen. The best is to be there, do your best and at the end of 24 hours if you are on the podium you are happy and if you win you are the best.”