PSG-1 Kawasaki's Chris Walker shot to second fastest during the opening free practice session today at Phillip Island - but the Briton was forced to experiment with set-up to try and solve chatter problems in the following qualifying session, leaving him 8th on the provisional grid.

"We did a really fast lap this morning in free practice, but its kinda the same sort of lap time we did during testing here in the winter but the problem is the same as at Qatar: After two or three laps the chatter becomes so bad that you just can't push for a lap time and you basically lose a 1 - 1.5 seconds a lap, which is no good obviously for the race," Walker told Radio.

"So we changed quite a bit for the afternoon and we never ultimately went quite as fast, but we did find a little more consistency. We're not really down or speed or anything like that; we're just struggling with chatter and I don't know why. Last year we had a similar thing, where it just got gradually worse and then we cured it somehow, but with this bike - at this stage - it's eluding us a little bit.

"I'm not disappointed with our position, it's just that during the race - if we're still where we are now - it's going to be tough."

The Briton, like almost all motorcycle riders, is a fan of the challenging Phillip Island circuit - and explained what he believes is the secret to a fast lap.

"I enjoy the track - it's one of the best - I've never excelled around here but I do really enjoy it," he replied. "If you've not raced this track before, generally you always lose all your time through the last section, which is still the part where I lose all my time as well. I can do it, but it takes a lot of concentration and when you do it right it never feels that fast. You can make up nearly a second around the last two or three corners. This bike seems to work well around here - we've just got to get it working for a few more laps!"

Meanwhile, on a totally different subject, Walker was asked if he is pleased to be back on a green Kawasaki - after the yellow of last year's ZX10R?

"It's definitely a bonus! I wasn't really happy with the nickname 'Banana Man' for obviously reasons!" he joked. "For me, Kawasakis are green - I've been riding Kawasaki motocross bikes forever and they were all green, and this is my fifth year on a Kawasaki Superbike and it's good that its green. Unfortunately it hasn't helped (the performance) yet though, so maybe we need some yellow stripes!"

When asked about his 2006 goals, Walker stated that he hopes to be the top Brit this season, which would mean outracing friend and Qatar race one winner James Toseland, but also revealed an even more significant target:

"There are a few Kawasakis out there now and I'm desperate to be the first one of them - we're factory supported - but hopefully there might be a factory team next year and I want to be on it," he declared.

Finally, Chris was asked for his opinion on the 2006 World Superbike championship as a whole - and claims it'll challenge the likes of MotoGP for excitement and attention:

"For me the championship this year is going to definitely steal the limelight away from a lot of championships that have had it their own way for a few years - with Bayliss back and four other GP riders - Barros, Rolfo, Xaus, Battaini," said the Stalker. "There are a lot of good guys that have come in and most of them are all on really good bikes as well. As the championship unfolds they'll definitely be a force to be reckoned with.

"Troy (Bayliss) hasn't done anything I didn't expect him to do - when he was last in World Superbike, for me, he and Edwards were a cut above the rest and he hasn't gone away to MotoGP and got any slower! Obviously Ducati have progressed with the bike as well and it's good to see.

"It'll be good; the two Troys battling it out for the title with Barros and everybody else chasing," he concluded.

Bayliss led first qualifying at Phillip Island today, with Barros second.