Rizla Suzuki's'S Chris Walker led from start-to-finish to win The Race of the Year at Mallory Park today and was followed home in second place by his team mate Cal Crutchlow.
Riding with the aim of securing a permanent seat in the Rizla Suzuki team for 2007, Chris started from second place on the grid to take the hole-shot and was never challenged during the 20-lap race.
Cal on his debut ride for Rizla Suzuki dominated practice and despite a crash late in qualifying took his maiden Superbike pole position. His number one bike was repaired but he pulled in after his warm up lap to switch to his spare GSX-R1000 for the race. He enjoyed a battle with Yamaha's Billy McConnell before eventually pipping him to the post for runners-up spot.
The Race of the Year was the final race for Rizla Suzuki in 2006. The team's next outing is at Valencia in Spain, on November 1st and 2nd, when it will debut test its all-new 2007 GSX-R1000 race bike. Cal Crutchlow will be joined by his team mate for next season and they will test alongside an exclusive group of MotoGP riders.
An announcement on who will partner Cal Crutchlow in the Rizla Suzuki team in 2007 is imminent.
"Hats off to the Rizla Suzuki team for working so hard to give me a bike I could win with today. It's a big ask to jump on a new bike with unfamiliar tyres at a circuit that I haven't visited for six years and to win; and much of the credit for the result must go to the quality of the team supporting me.
"It's great to be back in Britain and winning again. The crowd has been brilliant and I want to thank all the Stalker fans for turning out to cheer me on. I hope I have done enough to prove to Rizla Suzuki that I am the right person for the job in 2007."
"During the warm-up lap something felt a little off with my bike, perhaps caused by my crash earlier in the day during qualifying. I switched to my spare bike and despite it being set up exactly the same, it felt slightly different and that was the difference between Chris and me today.
"I am disappointed not to have won but overall I am happy because on my debut Superbike ride for Rizla Suzuki I have scored a pole position and second place - you can't be bad to that. Being a Superbike rider is simply brilliant, I'm loving every minute of it and the Rizla Suzuki team is fantastic to work with. I can't wait until we start testing in earnest."
Simon Buckmaster, Team Manager:
"It's been a good day for Rizla Suzuki and I'm delighted with the performance of the riders and the team as a whole. It's great for the new staff to win on their first weekend racing and it's an encouraging start for Cal to take a podium on his step up from Supersport to Superbike. Well done to the whole Rizla Suzuki team.
"Chris did a great job today and we will be reviewing who will partner Cal in the team for 2007 over the next week.
"This is the first step in Rizla Suzuki's preparations for the 2007 season and we will be taking the next one at Valencia in just over two week's time when we start our winter test programme."
Mallory Park Race of the Year, Race Result:
- 1: Chris Walker (Suzuki) 17:29.314
- 2: Cal Crutchlow (Suzuki) +7.764
- 3: Billy McConnell (Yamaha) +8.009
- 4: Peter Hickman (Kawasaki) +14.126
- 5: John McGuinness (Honda) +20.419
- 6: Ian Hutchinson (Kawasaki) +34.176.