Like most racing fans in Britain I was hugely excited about Chris Walker, a.k.a 'The Stalker' coming back to British Superbikes in 2009.
I’ve still got an Old Spice Ducati hat from 1996 when Chris Walker first properly arrived on the scene and had a few monumental offs. His no fear attitude was just as appealing as his aggressive riding style and down-to-earth personality. So like everyone else, I became a massive fan.
When he first signed for Rob Mac in ’97 it spearheaded what has been a career filled with success and personal agonies.
But with MCN exclusively revealing today that Chris Walker will return to BSB in 2009 for his second British Superbike spell with McElnea and Yamaha, is it a year or two too late for the 38-year old to seal the BSB title that’s escaped him for so long?
The last two years in particular have possibly been the most difficult of Walker’s 14-year road racing career.
A return to BSB with Rizla had all the making for success but an undeveloped bike and difficulties reacclimatizing with British circuits prevented any title bid.
And dropping down to the 600cc World Supersport class for 2008 proved just as fruitless – as did a switch mid-season to Paul Bird’s Superbike team.
So where does it leave Walker now in terms of competitiveness?
Once again he’s working with a bike that’s in the first year of its development, and the last time I looked the British circuits haven’t changed in the year he’s been away.
So will Stalker suffer the same problems he had in 2007?
What Walker does have on his side is a mass of riding and BSB experience from his team boss and a group of guys who’ve proved they can build an ultra-fast motorcycle.
But as cliché as it sounds, ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ will always spring to mind.
Rob Mac reckons he can influence a change in Stalker’s riding style, but how easy will it be to breakdown the riding behaviour of a man who’s been circulating race tracks for over a decade since they last worked together?
Obviously at this point in the season it’s always a question of ifs and buts. The one thing that is for certain though is there are going to be a few Stalker flags waving in the wind at BSB races next summer.
But I want to know what you guys think. Do you reckon it’s too late for him? Will it be the year he captures the BSB crown he’s missed out on four times?
Post your comments below and let me know your opinion. And to add a little spice how about giving me a prediction for where Walker will finish in 2009?
Oh, and keep you eyes open for the full interview with Walker in this week's MCN – it’s worth a look just to check out the sharp-dressed McElnea and Walker from ’97. It made me chuckle anyway.