BY his own admission Chris Walker’s MCE Insurance British Superbike campaign is the start of the journey towards life after racing – but that doesn’t mean the Mansfield ace isn’t targeting 2012 silverware.
At 40 Walker is the eldest statesman in the BSB paddock and readily accept his 2012 job specification is as much about developing rookie teammate James Hillier as it is championing his own ambitions.
However having finished as high as fifth (twice) last year Walker, riding for new team Pr1mo Bournemouth Kawasaki, is far from planning to be a 2012 passenger.
With rule changes introduced to help level the domestic playing field and negate the power of the big-money, factory-backed squads the Stalker’s competitive juices are certainly flowing.
“It’s an exciting year for me,” said Walker. “I am the oldest in the championship by a little way from Michael Rutter.
“There are not so many older guys in the paddock this year really apart from myself, Michael, M and then maybe Shakey (Shane Byrne).
“After that then it is just the younger guys coming through. My role has changed a bit now. I am one of the riders on the team who has James coming through and so I am there to help mentor him.
“It’s not necessarily about me being the championship threat any more. I can still get top tens on a good day and I am not disgracing myself and I love racing.
“Our aim as a team is to make the grade to being an A-team and being in the top six for the Showdown at the end of the year.
“And whether that is myself or James (Hillier) that is doing that it doesn’t really matter as long as the team is making that step so it’s an exciting time for me.
“I understand you can’t race forever so it’s part two of my career really. It’s something that excites me because I have not got a 15-year-old son coming through the ranks I’ve got a two-year-old girl who is mad on motorbikes but it’ll be a while before we see her out there.
“The team’s aim to be in the top six is the most important thing but of course I’d like to be the one in there. I’ll be pushing hard. I think this year it’s about throwing away the form book from last year and see what happens.”
But while Walker – who finished 2011 in 12th overall – admits his race career is entering a new chapter the Nottingham ace insists concrete thoughts of retirement are the last thing on his mind.
The 12-round season kicks off at Brands Hatch this weekend and Walker said: “People ask me about stuff and how long I’ll continue racing but it’s not been on my radar yet to think about stopping just yet.
“So I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it because I’m not disgracing myself on the track.
“We had some good finishes last year and were often the top Kawasaki bike out there and while that continues I’d love to continue racing.
“At some stage one door closes and another one will open but I’ll sort that out when it happens.”
For a full list of race fixtures, visit the MCEInsurance website.
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