Foggy Petronas rider Chris Walker believes that the new Pirelli only tyre rule has already proved beneficial to the World Superbike championship, but remains concerned that the Italian company are yet to produce a suitable qualifying compound for the Brit's FP1.

Walker, who gave Carl Fogarty's team its first ever podium finish with third in Valencia race one, claims that putting all teams on the same tyres has helped remove one area of the factory Ducati team's advantage.

"I think it has brought the Ducati Fila riders closer to the rest of the pack. If they had still been on Michelins then maybe Haga wouldn't have had the same chance to win the second race (at Valencia)," said 'The Stalker'. "The lap times aren't affected too much and I don't think people at the circuit or at home can notice a difference as it's only a matter of two tenths a corner."

Walker then added his support to the comments made at Valencia by championship leader James Toseland, who stated that the racing would get closer as the season progresses.

"The first couple of races each year are never the best races, as the teams who test at Valencia or Phillip Island stand a better chance," explained Chris. "Hopefully that will be a positive factor for us when the engines are a bit stronger. People still talk about the Bayliss-Edwards battle of two years ago, but Bayliss won the first 14 races, so the championship wasn't too close then!"

The only concern Walker now has is the need to find a Pirelli qualifying tyre to suit his FP1, the only three-cylinder machine in the field, after he and team-mate Troy Corser were left tenth and twelfth respectively in Valencia Superpole.

"At race pace I think we have made a lot of progress but we have still more work to do at putting in the fast laps on the good Pirelli rubber during qualifying. And the lack of a suitable qualifying tyre is still a worry for us," he admitted.

Round two of the 2004 World SBK championship takes place at Phillip Island on March 28.



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