MotoGP: Carlos Checa closes in on Ten Kate Honda deal

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Carlos Checa will fly to Holland this week to finally clinch a deal to replace James Toseland in the 2008 World Superbike championship.

The veteran Spaniard has been frozen out of MotoGP with no offers for him to continue his premier class career in 2008 after the LCR Honda squad recently confirmed Randy de Puniet would replace him next season.

Carlos Checa has been pursuing a ride on the new V4 Honda FireBlade next year in the Ten Kate squad, and he will officially sign a deal to partner reigning British superbike champion Ryuichi Kiyonari this week.

Checa has the backing of senior Honda management in Japan after his eye-catching second place in the prestigious Suzuka Eight-hour endurance earlier this season.

The former factory Yamaha and Ducati rider, who hasn’t won a race since 1996, said: “Everything is very close. I am really happy about this because this is a really good opportunity for me.

“I have been pushing Honda for this ride and they have also been pushing for me, which is good. I think I will fit the new bike very well. It will be good for my style and I won’t have the same problems with size like this year on the 800.

“The Ten Kate team has an incredible record of success and I want to be part of it to help them continue.”

The only other rider in contention for theTen Kate Honda slot is believed to be Brazilian veteran Alex Barros.

His return to MotoGP in 2007 looks to be a brief one, with his place in the D’Antin Ducati squad going to Toni Elias.

Honda and Ten Kate are both believed to favour Carlos Checa.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt