Thursday, September 07, 2006

Chris Walker wins

It's been a long time coming, but the British fans' favourite in World Superbike, Chris "The Stalker" Walker finally got a win in WSB at Assen on Sunday. Who'd have thought that after the first corner, where he was run off the track and rejoined in 26th, he'd win?

It was an outrageously wet race, so you can hardly say the circumstances were normal, but in these conditions The Stalker was the class of the field, consistently lapping 2-3 seconds a lap faster than anyone else.

It's hard to not like the Yorkshireman - modest, self-effacing, yet brutally aggressive on-track, you only need to watch his riding style to know that this bloke means business. All the more surprising that in conditions that demanded the smoothest inputs, he was able to tame the beast and stay on the bike when all around him the top superbike riders in the world were not.

Troy Corser was the first to go, with yet another DNF in what is becoming a nightmare second-half of the season. Before long championship leader Troy Bayliss was making regular off-track excursions, at one point distracting Yukio Kagayama so badly that the Suzuki rider crashed. Third time off the track Bayliss was done for good. This left Nitro Nori Haga in the position of taking back 25 valuable points and reigniting the championship race. Alas, Nori lowsided into the wet grass with no hope of getting going again. Next up was habitual crasher Ruben Xaus, who was enjoying a fine day out in the puddles until he pushed too hard. This left solid riders such as Andrew Pitt and Michel Fabrizio leading the race. If it hadn't been for Walker carving his way through the field, it's likely Pitt would've won. Fair play, though, he complimented Walker in the post-race interview, acknowledging that he'd been beaten fair and square.

It was undoubtedly the ride of Chris Walker's life, and one of the more sublime wet-weather rides I've ever seen. Most importantly a genuinely nice chap enjoyed the well-deserved moment of his life. Nice.

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