CHRIS Walker admits he had all but waved the top step of the podium goodbye - but after ending his 12-year wait for a MCE Insurance British Superbike victory at round three at Oulton Park, the Ollerton ace believes he’s back among the big boys.
Prior to victory during race two of the weekend last Monday, Walker hadn’t claimed a BSB win since 2000 at Brands Hatch, and now the wrong side of 40, he wondered if he would ever do so again.
Back in 2000, Walker finished the season in second place for the fourth straight year but since then the best he has managed is sixth.
But on Monday he rolled back the years, advancing from fourth into first place, making his move with four of the 18 laps remaining to get that winning feeling again, coming home ahead of Shane Byrne and Josh Brookes.
And Walker, who rides for Pr1mo Bournemouth Kawasaki, conceded it had been a long time coming.
“I have missed the top step of the podium,” said Walker, who finished seventh in race one on Sunday and ninth in race three, later on Monday.
“I did feel like I could get a trophy sometime this year but I didn’t think it would be so soon and generally didn’t think it would be a win.
“The bike was mega in the race and it held up better than everyone else’s and that is what got me the win.
“I genuinely have surprised myself with the pace I have had so far this year. We have been very lucky that we have built a good bike.
“It has been built by the team from last year so it really is an absolute weapon. It really is the best bike I have ever sat on.”
Last season, Walker finished the championship in 12th place with two fifths the best he could muster – forced to watch on as the likes of Brookes, Byrne and Hill breezed past him at will.
But a tweak to the rules, which has tried to level the playing field in terms of technology used, has seen Walker back at the BSB top table.
“The new rules have helped a little bit and played into a little team like ours’ hands and the team and friends and personal sponsors have dug in to get me on the grid,” he added.
“And to repay them with a win so soon and actually for my confidence and all the grief I gave the missus on a weekly basis, it is long overdue.
“It was just nice to keep up with Josh Brookes, last year whenever I saw those guys on the track they were in their own league.
“This weekend I have seen them out on the circuit and I have been able to hold my own and it has given me a massive boost inside. A lot of it I owe to a motorbike being so good.”
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