Althea Racing Ducati RS11 1198: King Carlos
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Althea Racing Ducati RS11 1198: King Carlos

By JeffWare - 14 March 2023
The chance of a lifetime came on 2011 when I was doing WorldSBK commentary for Speed TV on Fox Sports. 

Words: Jeff Ware Photos: Studio Zac

Carlos Checa dominated WSBK in 2011 with 15 wins and 21 podiums, winning his first ever world title at the ripe old age of 38 on the privateer Ducati. Of all the bikes I rode at the 2011 end of season press test, the Althea Racing Ducati RS11 was the most exciting.

It’s a warm Monday morning at Algarve International Circuit, a place that feels like my second home such is its popularity for tyre tests, bike launches and other events.

Carlos Checa dominated WSBK in 2011, winning his first ever world title at the ripe old age of 38.

Climbing onto Checa’s machine, the first thing I notice is how flat the bike feels. I expected some radically jacked up machine, particularly with Checa’s Grand Prix past, however, the bike is surprisingly conservative feeling. The seat is low, the bars are low…

“The bike sits so balanced on the springs and the level of feel from the stunning Ohlins forks is out of this world”…

I head off, needing mega revs and a good push to get going. I exit pit lane and short-shift to third gear for the run down to turn one. The Ducati stomps off the turns with ferocious punch. I can’t keep it from wheel-standing and need to get the revs up once I settle down.

We tested the bike on race slicks not these hand cut intermediates. 
The brakes on the RS11 were stunning, even when compared to other WorldSBK bikes I have ridden. 

The torque is incredible and not easy to get used to. Carlos rides with such finesse and grace that I was convinced this would be a big pussycat to ride. But it is not. The acceleration can only be described as violent and the throttle response instant in every sense of the word. In the lower gears I found I had to really spend attention on cracking the throttle smoothly with a bit of rear brake on.

200hp@11,000rpm and 162kg minimum weight. A true weapon. 

Once open the bike jumps off the turns like you would not believe. Do it with urgency or lack of care and the bike responds by bucking, shaking and trying to twist its trellis frame into knots. Smooth is the key.

The RS11 privateer Ducati that won the title. I could not believe how punchy it was off turns compared to the factory bikes. 

Power is linear and acceleration so strong that the bike feels faster than the other superbikes. But once the revs reach 11,500rpm the power drops away rapidly. The bike is very flat up top so early shifting and long gears are required.

The low, wide and classically positioned handlebars of the Checa machine. 

One surprise on the Checa bike is the level of engine braking Carlos likes. It helps him get the bike turned and jammed into corners but caught me out a few times. Most racers like a lot of clutch slip however the number 7 machine has more engine braking than a Mack truck! Back shift into turns above 9000rpm and the rear wheel will hop and the bike shudder.

With so much torque and drive the bike is not the easiest to control in a quick test and would take some time to learn to ride smoothly and to not upset the bike with inputs.

Such a sweet handling bike thanks to the trademark Trellis frame that is sadly a thing of the past for Ducati superbikes. 

The brakes on the Althea Ducati are simply stunning. I’m glad I had ridden a few other machines the morning I rode Checa’s as I thought I knew what strong brakes were! Well, as incredible as some of the others are, the set-up Carlos runs is incredible. Braking in anger is an experience right up there with the thrill of the acceleration from the engine. And the feel is incredible.

“Braking in anger is an experience right up there with the thrill of the acceleration”…

The suspension on the Althea Ducati is surprisingly plush, although I do weigh in at 18kg more than Checa! The bike sits so balanced on the springs and the level of feel from the stunning Ohlins forks is out of this world. Riding the RS11 was a highlight of my career…

Jeff in the pits – waiting nervously to ride the bike on a day I rode all the factory WorldSBK machines and the Supersport machines! I really had to be fit back then!

ALTHEA RACING DUCATI RS11 1198 Specifications

Power: Over 200hp@11,000rpm (with 50mm restrictor)

Wet weight: 162 – 171kg (variable, managed by FIM pending results)

Fuel capacity: 23.9L Engine: 90-degree L-twin Desmodromic four-valve per-cylinder liquid-cooled four-stroke

Bore and stroke: 106mm x 67.9mm

Displacement: 1198cc

Fuel delivery: Magneti Marelli Marvel4 ECU, elliptical throttle-bodies with air restrictor between 46 and 52mm diameter (FIM regulations), Magneti Marelli 162 + 189 twin injectors per cylinder

Exhaust: Termignoni, stainless and titanium, two-into-one-into-two with titanium/carbon-fibre mufflers

Gearbox: Six-speed cassette with straight cut gears

Clutch: Dry, multi-plate slipper clutch, hydraulic actuation

Frame type: Tubular steel trellis frame

Wheelbase: 1435m

Rake: Adjustable

Trail: Adjustable

Front suspension: 43mm pressurised Ohlins TRVP25/TTX25 fork

Rear suspension: Single-sided swingarm, Ohlins RSP40 shock

Front brakes: Brembo radial P4X34-38 calipers and 320mm rotors

Rear brake: Brembo P2X34 caliper and 218mm rotor

Front wheel: Marchesini, 3.50×16.5

Rear wheel: Marchesini, 6.25×16.5

Front tyre: Pirelli Slick, 120/75 – 16.5

Rear tyre: Pirelli Slick, 190/65 – 16.5

Instruments: Magneti Marelli

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