Checa: “The hardest thing for me in Dakar was not being as fast as I could”

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Checa: “The hardest thing for me in Dakar was not being as fast as I could”

Carlos Checa is one of the three drivers behind the wheel of ASTARA TEAM 01 CONCEPT at the 2023 Dakar Rally, with Óscar Fuertes and Laia Sanz, his colleagues. With this sustainable vehicle, the former MotoGP rider and Superbike World Champion made a step forward in performance compared to what he wore in his Dakar debut in 2022. And not only that, the entire structure – led by Gonzalo de Andrés – and the quality of his new co-driver – the former motorcycle driver in Dakar Marc Solà – give him enough confidence to ensure that “we can aspire to achieve better results”.

Used to fighting for the last thousandth on circuits around the world, Czech making sure that the most important thing for him in the study is not to maximize the car’s performance in an endurance race like Dakar, where errors are paid dearly. “Mentally, the hardest thing for me was not going as fast as I could,” he said. After learning last year, he believes he has found the necessary balance between speed, reliability, and risk.

Another of the ASTARA TEAM’s keys is its strong commitment to sustainability, thanks to the use of synthetic fuel that reduces harmful emissions to the atmosphere by 90% compared to traditional fuel. For Checa, this option is “very interesting and should be developed”, as it would avoid replacing the entire existing vessel.

What led you to bet on the ASTARA TEAM project for Dakar 2023?

This is a project that motivates me, big words, with the ability to grow in Dakar. This year we can be in more respectable positions compared to where I was in the 2022 edition, in my debut. Now, with a better team and a more experienced co-driver like Marc Solà, I think we can be at a higher level and that’s why I’m going back to the Dakar.

What sensations did you have with the wheel of the ASTARA 01 CONCEPT in the tests you performed?

From my first tests, I really liked it. It is very different from the car I was driving last year. I have little experience in Dakar, especially with this car, but as soon as I got on it I noticed that the performance was better. That gives me a lot of confidence for this Dakar. I think we can aspire to achieve better results, without a doubt.

What has been the most difficult thing in your transition from circuit motorcycles to the Dakar?

I wouldn’t say it’s easy to go from motorcycles to cars, but it’s pretty manageable. Putting on two wheels is always easier! Actually, the most complicated thing is to adapt to the breed type. I’m used to getting into short, fast races, and going into the last mile. In a race like Dakar, you have to have speed, but you don’t have to go to the limit. Little by little, especially after last year’s Dakar, I’m starting to find a balance between speed, maintaining my mechanics and avoiding mistakes.

ASTARA TEAM has a strong commitment to sustainability, thanks to the use of advanced 90% synthetic fuel. Do you think this type of fuel is the future?

I think this is a very interesting alternative, because it does not require a change of either the mechanics or the type of machine currently used. Adapting the entire mobile park to another technology is something that can take a long, long time. On the other hand, e-fuel is a very interesting option, which should be developed, because the price is currently high. I think it might be the best alternative to traditional fuel. With it in Dakar we showed that it is completely viable.

This year you are working with a new co-driver, Marc Solà, how is your relationship with him?

He is a very good person and has a lot of experience. We understand each other, something that is key in a race like this. We will need some time to adapt, as the relationships between driver and co-driver are developed over time, but we have a good base.

You also have new teammates, Óscar Fuertes and Laia Sanz, how do you get along with them?

Cold! I have known Laia for many years, and I admire her a lot for her incredible career in motorcycles. Every time we happened upon an event we were happy. On the other hand, I met Óscar last year in Dakar and we’ve been on good terms ever since. Having a good relationship is also key to fighting for a good shared goal, which is what we’ll be doing in just a few weeks.

What goals have you set for Dakar 2023?

The goal is to do better than last year and maintain a high performance from start to finish. Talking about goals and numbers is like playing the lottery, because I don’t know at what level we compare to other rivals. I will be satisfied if we give our best every day, make few mistakes and make the most of our abilities as well as the performance of the team and the car.

Source: La Verdad

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