Fans favourite Chris Walker will ride a Rizla Suzuki GSX-R1000 at this weekend's Race of the Year at Mallory Park in Leicestershire with the clear target of impressing the team and securing a full-time ride in British Superbikes in 2007.
Walker finished ninth in the World Superbike Championship in 2006 taking a memorable maiden victory at Assen on the way. Now the 34-year-old wants to return to British Superbike racing and go for the title with a team he knows can win.
Rizla Suzuki is a proper team with a bike that can challenge for the BSB crown - I should know because I nearly won the Championship with Suzuki in 2000, said Walker. I am honoured that Rizla Suzuki is considering me for 2007 and giving me the opportunity to work with the team at Mallory Park this weekend.
It has been six years since I last raced at Mallory and there is at least one new chicane so I will hardly recognise the place! On top of that I need to get used to a new bike, new team and Dunlop tyres. We have a private test on Friday so that will help and then I'll be giving it my all for the team and the fans on Sunday.
In all honesty though, the best result I can achieve from this weekend is to gel with the Rizla Suzuki team and secure a seat with it for 2007. That?s my real target.
Walker has finished runner-up in the British Superbike Championship four times, the most recent in 2000 with Crescent Suzuki, a relationship which finished in acrimony at the end of the season when Walker chose to forego Suzuki's offer of a WSB partnership in 2001 in favour of a GP ride.
The chance to ride for Suzuki again is something I have dreamed of for many years now but never thought it would happen,explained Nottingham-based Walker. I am a believer in time being a healer. I think I've grown up and learnt a few lessons on how to treat people properly and understand the rights and wrongs a lot better than I did in 2000. I view this as an opportunity to make amends with Suzuki and as a second chance, which I am grateful for - I really want to make the most of it.
I have unfinished business in BSB and want more than anything to win the Championship with Suzuki. I know it isn't going to be easy and I'm under no illusion about the level of the competition but I know Rizla Suzuki is the team that can bring it all together. I just hope it works between us this weekend at Mallory Park so I can have the opportunity to go for the title in 2007 with a team I believe in.
Rizla Suzuki Team Manager Simon Buckmaster said: Chris didn't leave Suzuki on the best of terms in 2000 but he has come a long way since then and he wants to give this opportunity his absolute best shot. Suzuki and the team have given him this chance at Mallory Park and if he can work well with us then there is a strong possibility he will race for Rizla Suzuki in 2007.
Walker will test alongside Rizla Suzuki's new signing, 20-year-old Cal Crutchlow, at Mallory Park in a private test session on Friday, October 13th, before taking part in the Race of the Year on Sunday, October 15th.