Checa made his debut in 125 cc and 250 cc motorcycle racing in 1993 for Honda. In 1995, he moved up to the Blue Riband 500 cc class as a replacement for Alberto Puig, a fellow Spaniard who broke both his legs in a horrifying crash in France. Checa shocked the paddock by being on the pace and nearly winning the Barcelona race.
He continued with the team until 1998, the year he suffered near fatal injuries with a crash at Donington Park. He crashed at Craner Curves and was initially thought to have suffered only scrapes and bruises before complaining of pain. Hours later he had lost his vision, needed emergency surgery to remove his spleen and was listed in critical condition. He fought back to ride that year, missing just one race, before racing for Yamaha as Max Biaggi's teammate on two and four-strokes. He nearly won many races but unfortunately crashed after taking the lead. One such race was at Rio de Janeiro in 2002 when he stalled on the starting line then, came through to lead before crashing a corner later.
Checa continued racing with the factory Yamaha team for the 2003 and 2004 seasons, before he moved to Ducati in 2005. In 2006 he returned to the Tech 3 Yamaha team, proving much steadier than in previous years and comfortably beating teammate James Ellison but was not much a threat to the rest of the field, as they were on Dunlop tyres. He struggled as the sole LCR Honda rider in 2007, with the 800cc Honda proving uncompetitive for many riders. At the Sachsenring Checa got an updated frame, which other non-works Honda riders had found uncompetitive – this is believed to be due to Checa using the same Michelin tyres as the works team, the other Hondas being on Bridgestones.
Checa returned to the series in 2010, as replacement for Mika Kallio for the last two races of the season.
For the 2008 season, Checa left MotoGP to join the Ten Kate Honda team in the Superbike World Championship as a replacement for 2007 champion James Toseland. At Valencia he challenged Max Neukirchner for the win at the final corner, resulting in a collision which broke Neukirchner's collarbone. Checa's first two wins – following four podium finishes – both came in the meeting at Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City on 1 June 2008. He did not reach the podium again, but consistent results elsewhere allowed him to finish fifth in the championship. He also won the Suzuka 8 Hours with teammate Ryuichi Kiyonari.
In 2009, Checa struggled to compete for much of the season, securing just four podium finishes and finishing seventh in the riders' standings, 32 points behind satellite Honda rider Leon Haslam. During the 2009 season, Ten Kate Honda announced that they would be downsizing their operation from three riders to just two. Both Checa and Ryuichi Kiyonari were released, with Jonathan Rea retained and Max Neukirchner joining the team from Suzuki.
In November 2009, Checa was confirmed as a rider at the Althea Ducati team, where he would race alongside Shane Byrne. He scored Althea's first win at the season opening meeting at Phillip Island, and was on course for victories in both races at Miller Motorsports Park in the United States before suffering mystery mechanical failures in both races. Checa went on to win the Italian round at Imola and finished the season in third place in the 2010 championship.
Checa dominated the opening round of the 2011 season, winning both races comfortably at Phillip Island on his Ducati 1098R. He won thirteen more times and was crowned the 2011 World Superbike Champion at the penultimate round at the Magny-Cours circuit in France, becoming the first Spaniard & only the 3rd European rider from outside of the United Kingdom after Raymond Roche & Max Biaggi to have done so.
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position, races in italics indicate fastest lap)
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)