Carlos Checa says the best result for him this weekend will be just to “enjoy” the experience, as the former World Superbike Champion makes his four-wheeled circuit race debut.
The 45-year-old Spaniard has lined up in one of Audi’s new R8 LMS GT4 cars for the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup at the Nürburgring, a circuit Checa has previous experience on in two-wheeled competition.
Checa, a former Ducati rider who has remained an ambassador for the bike manufacturer, said he received the call from parent company Audi for the unique opportunity to try his hand at the wheel of an R8 LMS GT4.
“They told me there was an opportunity to come, and of course I said please, of course,” Checa told Sportscar365. “This is the best holiday I can have.
“I’m here to enjoy. I just want to get the best experience, the best learning and the results for me is the last [thing].”
While one of five entries in the new-for-2018 class, which makes its debut in this weekend’s pair of 30-minute races, Checa has quickly come to grips with the mid-engined sports car.
He claimed pole for Race 1 and finished second in class in Friday’s opening round.
He credits some of his success to countryman and friend Alex Riberas, who drives an Audi R8 LMS GT3 in the Blancpain GT Series for Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, who, along with Audi’s pool drivers have helped his transition.
Another bonus has been Checa’s past experience and success on the Nürburgring GP circuit, albeit it on two wheels.
He claimed Superpole, fastest lap and the Race 1 victory in the German Motorcycle Grand Prix in 2011, en route to the World Championship title that year.
“When you know the line and the track, at the end, with the car, you only need to [adjust],” Checa said. “You feel the car, and you need to manage the right gear and you get to used to it.
“It’s what I’m learning and I’m trying to understand, to know which gear and which line and when is the right timing to turn. This, with the car, is different, the braking points especially. We brake so late!”
Checa said there are also other noticeable differences, and perhaps advantages, to racing a closed-top car.
“It’s different, and the good thing is that if it’s raining, you don’t get wet,” he said. “And if you spin, you don’t fall down!
“This is very positive, especially at my age, because the asphalt is very hard!”
While having retired from professional motorcycle competition in 2013, Checa has recently picked up the bug for rallying, having taken part in the Pan-Africa rally as well as last month’s Merzouga Rally in Morocco in a buggy.
However, Checa hasn’t ruled out furthering his career in sports car racing, given the right opportunity.
“The car [racing] world is so difficult to be inside,” he admitted. “Of course if Audi gave me the opportunity to test the GT3 [car] one day, it would be perfect and fantastic, because I think it would be the next step.
“From my side I’d be very pleased to go ahead on that.
“When I’ve done rally, everything is different. The dunes, stones, it’s changing all the time.
“For me, at this moment, it’s something more attractive. But of course if I have the opportunity to test a [GT3] car, maybe my mind will change a little!”