Aussie showdown for Walker and Hodgson confirmed

Published: 07 January 2002

Rivals Chris Walker and Neil Hodgson will go head-to-head on the track for the first time since 2000 when they line up for first official WSB test in Australia later this month.

The final decision to make the trip to the Phillip Island test on January 30 was only confirmed by Walker’s new factory Kawasaki team this week.

Walker said: " I am desperate to get on the bike – it’s all I think about really because I still have a lot of work to do on my confidence as much as anything.

GSE Ducati were already confirmed to attend the test and will be joined by the factory Ducati team, Honda, as well as Kawasaki. Of the factory teams only Suzuki and Benelli will not attend.

Walker and Hodgson have not shared track space since the final round of the 2000 British superbike season when Walker’s Suzuki GSX-R750 blew up handing the title to Hodgson.

Walker said " Obviously, there is a rivalry between us because of the history we have shared in previous years but, as far as I am concerned, it’s not bitter. If I am out on track and Neil is there I’m obviously going to try and match him though because he’s one of the fastest guys out there. But I’m sure we’re not going to be bashing fairings because we both have enough to be getting on with. "

For Hodgson and team-mate James Toseland the test cannot come soon enough as they try to get to grips with their new bikes.

Hodgson said: " We have only managed to get a day or so done of testing so far because of the weather in Spain so Phillip Island will be important. You can never have enough testing before the start of the season. "

Although they have yet to confirm it is thought almost all of the factory teams will be going to Australia. This includes former WSB champion Colin Edwards on the new Honda VTR SP-2, new champion Troy Bayliss and team-mate Ruben Xaus. Also flying out will be Ben Bostrom, Walker’s team-mate Hitoyasu Izutsu and Noriyuki Haga.

We will bring you daily updates from the tests from January 30.