50-year-old fans favourite Chris ‘Stalker’ Walker will return to competitive racing action in 2023, after agreeing a deal with the British-based ADSS Kawasaki team to compete in the EWC (World Endurance) Superstock Championship.
Having never officially retiring from racing after his Bennetts British Superbike career was cut short in 2015, when the Be Wiser Kawasaki squad pulled out mid-season following financial issues, Chris dabbled in sidecar racing, and also turned his hand to being a crew chief for Shaun Winfield with the TAG Racing squad for two seasons. However, he still had a burning desire to continue racing.
He returned competitively in 2021 where he finished second in the Ducati Tri-Options Cup, picking up two victories and eight podiums. But due to work commitments he was forced focus his attentions on Chris Walker Motorcycles, his new and used motorcycle dealership in Grantham, for 2022. Leaving a lot of his fans wondering if that would be the last they’d see of him on tarmac.
However, after a season away the ‘Stalker’ is now returning to competitive racing, linking up with the ADSS Kawasaki team, run by Chris Platt. The team compete in the superstock class of the World Endurance series, which will see them contest the Le Mans 24hr, the 24hr of Spa and the Bol D’or.
“As you know I never officially retired, so I keep dipping my toe in and out of things when I feel like it, and ultimately when the time allows,” he said to BikeSocial in an exclusive interview (above)
“The bike shop I run is tomorrow and racing is the past, but I still have a massive passion for racing and for motorbikes. So, when I got the opportunity to race in the Ducati Tri-Options, we’d just become a Ducati dealer so to race in that series made a little bit of sense, Rachel volunteered me and the next thing I knew I was on the grid and I loved it, racing with John (McGuinness) and Josh Day made it good year.
“I always hoped my career would take me down a path towards the end of it, and back when I started racing my teammate, Terry Rymer, was doing World Endurance at the same and then in 1999 Kawasaki encouraged me to do the Le Mans 24hr. I went and won that with Steve Hislop and a good French rider, who was the third rider, and it was phenomenal. I’d hoped later on in my career it would come back around and that would be how I’d finish my career off.
“A couple of my friends race in the superstock class at World Endurance, and after a stag do before Christmas where we went to Colin Edwards’ Boot Camp one of them owed me £100, so I said jokingly ‘Oh don’t worry about it, put it towards the tyre bill for Le Mans,’ and the next thing I know we’re going racing again at World Endurance on a Kawasaki, and I can’t wait, I’m really excited about it.”
Since his superbike career fizzled out the way it did back in 2015, Walker hasn’t fully ridden a superbike in anger around a circuit, other than a test with TAG Racing back in 2018. That sent his beloved fans into pandemonium as they anticipated a return to the Bennetts BSB series.
But in truth, Chris felt that ship had sailed, and after two years racing sidecars and a year within the Ducati Tri-Options Cup, most people thought that would be the last time we’d see the now 50-year-old out on track.
But he admitted to BikeSocial that he still has a passion for racing and felt he could still be competitive, but only in the right Championship, and he feels that the move into Endurance racing could be the best fit for him.
“I still love racing, the whole feeling on the start line, the excitement and the build up to it is something I miss.
“I did a couple of years as a technician with TAG Racing, and in testing I got the chance to ride again and when people saw it, I got massive encouragement from people seeing me back out on a bike, it was pretty special really.
“So, I’ve always wanted to get back out on a big bike if I had a chance, but only in something I could actually do a decent job in. I wouldn’t be able to a full season in BSB now and be competitive week in, week out, I know I couldn’t because I’m in my 50’s.
“But I still have that desire, I can still put a fast lap in, and endurance is something different. There is a limit to how much you can push for that period of time, but it’s a chance like I say to get back on a big bike and see if I still have some pace.”
It’s been 24 years since Chris last ran across the track to start a World Endurance race, that time with the late, great, Steve Hislop as his teammate in the factory Kawasaki squad, a race in which they went on to be victorious in.
But in truth, what is he expecting from his return to competitive two-wheeled racing on the world stage at the age of 50-year-old? Well, in true racer style the 2000 Bennetts BSB runner-up admitted he doesn’t want to be ‘wobbling around at the back.’
“It’s in the superstock class, the team is quite accomplished, ADSS, they have support from Kawasaki and have just taken delivery of some brand-new bikes for this year.
“We’re off testing in Spain straight from the London Bike Show, three days at Andalucía and three at Valencia,” he then joked, “so if I can still walk at the end of those six days and not had cramp for five out of the six then I’ll roughly know where we are.
“But the team has done quite well, it’s pretty much a self-funded team and they are quite strong, we’re all mates and from top to bottom we all get on. Ultimately, I want it to be a bit fun, I’m away from the business so I need to justify it in terms of having a good time, but I certainly don’t want to go there and wobble around at the back.
“There is no reason why we can’t be competitive, I did my only 24-hour race 24 years ago and I haven’t been back since, so I don’t know how I’ll go but I know I’ll really enjoy it, I’m going to dive in feet first at Le Mans and just see how I go.”