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Chris Walker profile

By Dan Moakes
October 12 2006

Chris Walker
nationality · English
born · 25 March 1972
grand prix début · 1995
world superbike début · 1997

Chris Walker is a big crowd favourite at home in Britain, where his spectacular ridng style and impressive record earned him the ‘Stalker’ tag, and where his fast-starting technique was honed. Famously, Chris was British Superbike runner-up four years running, with three different 750cc four-cylinder motorcycles, and is surely the best man not to win the title - which he seemed certain to claim in 2000 until last minute heartbreak. Following a short spell in Grands Prix, Chris is now at home in World Superbike racing, where he has scored twelve podium finishes, and has just recently joined the list of race winners in fine style.

1976
First trail bike

1985-1993
Successful motocross career, with club titles, and 5th in 1993 AMC British championship

1994
Started in road racing at Cadwell Park’s Yamaha race school, then entered first races at Mallory Park on a 250cc Suzuki - two wins and a second; EMRA Club Champion; Shell National Clubman’s Champion

1995 Padgett’s Racing Team
2nd in British 250cc Supercup, with the Padgett’s Honda - two wins, seven other podiums, two fastest laps; National Cup 250cc Champion; won Mallory Race of the Year from pole
Also raced as a 500cc (Harris-Yamaha) and 250cc (Honda) Grand Prix wildcard for Padgett’s - scored a point in the 500 race at Donington; also raced in European 250 events - 2nd, 3rd and 7th; also substituted for Devimead Ducati’s Steve Hislop in the Shell Superbike races at Donington, with third in race one

1996 Old Spice Ducati Racing, number 8 Ducati
Chris now graduated to a Ducati 955 in the British Superbike championship, as team-mate to Terry Rymer. Finishing fourth in the first race, he matched this in race five, and was second in Snetterton’s first race. In other outings the bike proved unreliable, so he was happy to accept a Grand Prix ride with the Elf 500 ROC team after going well as a wildcard at home. He raced the number 44 Elf in six races, scoring two points, also ending up eleventh overall from just half a season of Superbikes, with 72 points
Also raced in the Triumph Speed Triple Challenge series; also scored a fourth, a win, and a joint fastest lap in the British 250cc round at Brands, with a Yamaha

Chris Walker 1997 - photo by Graham Etheridge
photo © Graham Etheridge · graham.etheridge 'at' ntlworld.com

1997 Cadbury’s Boost Yamaha, number 2 Yamaha
For 1997, Chris was selected as team-mate to reigning British Superbike champion Niall Mackenzie, on the Yamaha YZF750. He made an impact from the first round, and was a winner as early as race three. A regular podium finisher, Walker became Mackenzie’s closest challenger, recording three wins, five seconds, six thirds and two pole positions, and taking runner-up slot with 345 points
Also raced bike 42 for Yamaha World Superbike Team as substitute for Colin Edwards - scored points in eight races for sixteenth overall; also tested Kenny Roberts’ Modenas GP 500 bike

1998 Kawasaki Motors UK, number 2 Kawasaki
Joining Kawasaki as BSB team leader, Chris made a winning start, but was usually best of the rest behind the Yamahas of Mackenzie and Hislop. That changed in the last nine races, when he added four more victories, emerging as Mackenzie’s challenger again, when Hislop missed rounds through injury. He totalled fifteen podiums, with 360 points leaving him just 17 behind in the final table
Also raced as a World Superbike wildcard, with bike number 42; also tested a Formula Extreme bike with Erion Honda

1999 Team Kawasaki UK, number 2 Kawasaki
Another year on the ZX-7RR started with ten consecutive top four results, but no wins. However, this kept him just a point behind Ducati’s Troy Bayliss, and a further nine podiums kept him in a three-way title chase with Troy and John Reynolds. Having now won three times, Chris went into the last race with an outside chance of beating the Australian, but a collision with Reynolds left him tenth, and on 366 points to Bayliss’ 394. Walker also recorded four pole positions and five fastest laps
Also raced as a World Superbike wildcard, with a best result of fourth on bike number 43; also rode in World Endurance, winning the Le Mans 24-Hour race with Steve Hislop and Bertrand Sebileau

2000 National Tyres/Clarion Suzuki, number 2 Suzuki
Walker fans remember the year 2000 above all others, for the titanic title battle with Neil Hodgson, and for the heartbreaking engine failure that cost him the crown in the very last race. Chris moved to the Suzuki GSX-R750, winning nine races and taking six seconds, two poles and two fastest laps. Other results put him 22 points ahead before the final round, despite a last corner clash between the top two at Oulton Park, and after the first race at Donington Park the margin was twelve. Walker only needed fourth place but then came the spectacular blow-up, and the tearful rider had to accept second overall, 414 to 422 points
Also raced as a World Superbike wildcard, with bike number 49, with six finishes in the top seven, including second to Hodgson at Donington

2001 Shell Advance Honda, number 8 Honda
Even with an existing offer of a Ducati ride in AMA Superbikes, Chris was quick to sign up for a full 500cc Grand Prix season, riding a Honda NSR500 V4. Unfortunately, he struggled to get to grips with the two-stroke machine, and suffered a number of crashes. After eight rounds, and a best result of 12th in France, Walker was dropped. He ended up 20th overall, with just nine points

2002 Kawasaki Racing Team, number 9 Kawasaki
A return to the ZX-7RR for 2002 seemed like a good bet, with Chris joining the World Superbike team for his first full-time ride in the series. A pre-season setback came in the form of Bell’s Palsy, an affliction that left him with paralysis of the muscles on one side of his face, but he didn’t let it affect his riding. After an early season injury to team-mate Hitoyasu Izutsu, Walker emerged to lead the 750 challenge, frequently duelling with Suzuki’s Gregorio Lavilla. A consistent run of results saw a best of fourth at Silverstone, and sixth at Brands Hatch, and ninth overall with 152 points

2003 HM Plant Ducati, number 9 Ducati
For 2003, Chris joined GSE Racing in place of former rival Hodgson, riding the Dunlop shod 998 F02 Ducati. The team were second only to the works squad on pace, but a run of injuries, not helped by two crashes at Sugo, served to hinder Walker’s progress. Nevertheless, he was a frequent top six finisher, with six rostrum visits for third place, and sixth position overall. 234 points was just 37 behind team-mate James Toseland, but also put him three places behind the youngster

Chris Walker 2004 - photo by Raceline Photography
© Raceline Photography

2004 Foggy Petronas Racing, number 9 Petronas
A new challenge came in the shape of Carl Fogarty’s three-cylinder FP1, in only its second year of racing, and things started very well. In difficult conditions, Walker took the bike’s first rostrum with third in the opening race. But the machine was not up to the standard of the pace-setting Ducati hordes and, although there were three second row appearances, Chris was consistently around seventh or eighth in the races, with a couple of better showings such as fourth at Brands. 128 points placed him eleventh overall, two places behind team-mate Troy Corser, and only third non-Ducati

Chris Walker 2005 - photo by Raceline Photography
© Raceline Photography

2005 PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse, number 9 Kawasaki
In an effort to move forward again, Chris opted for a four-cylinder Superbike once more, this time the 1000cc ZX machine. Fourth and third places in Valencia showed the competitive spirit still burning, whilst an earlier run at Phillip Island had looked even more promising. In a re-started wet race two, Walker soon moved up into a brilliant second on the road, only to crash in the treacherous conditions moments after taking the on-track lead. Some consistent results made him the top Kawasaki man, in seventh with 160 points.

Chris Walker at Assen - photo © Raceline Photography
© Raceline Photography

2006 PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse, number 9 Kawasaki
With his ZX-10R back in the more familiar green livery, Chris has carried on at PSG-1 with new GP-winning team-mates Régis Laconi and Fonsi Nieto. The Englishman recorded a front row start at Silverstone, and had a best race result of fourth, at Misano, after eight rounds. The came the rains at Assen, with Walker’s skills guiding him from last place to his début win, as all the 2006 contenders fell foul of the tricky conditions. He is eighth in the points at the time of writing.


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