Matt Walker’s 400 Thunder Championship story reads like a Hollywood blockbuster – mateship and camaraderie, triumph through adversity and a nail-biting finish to the season that saw the Queensland racer crowned with his first ever National Championship.
Far from a veteran racer, Walker has only been racing competitively for around two and a half years, spending only half that amount of time in Competition Bike. “It was just something I picked up, I don’t have other family members in Drag Racing,” he adds, however by keeping company with plenty of other mates in the sport he quickly found himself hooked.
One such mate was fellow bike racer Ace Edwards. “Myself and Ace Edwards were talking on the phone at the start of the season about wanting to chase points, so that’s what we did. We loaded up my trailer and headed to Sydney and continued to do rounds together to cut down on costs.” The pair would go on to do both Sydney rounds and both Willowbank rounds and the results speak for themselves, with Edwards claiming victory in Modified Bike and Walker winning Competition Bike.
The time on the road traveling to rounds paid dividends and heading in to the final round of the season, the Winternationals, Walker had a streaking 50-point lead on the rest of the field. “The points cap brought me right back down again though so I was level with three other people – the Championship could have gone any way,” he explains.
And the curve balls didn’t stop coming.
“We blew up the engine at the Winternationals warm up on Monday so we had to thrash and bash to get it back together. All my stuff was back home so we were borrowing and buying parts from the rest of the field! We ended up firing it back up on the Wednesday night in time to make Qualifying on Thursday,” he says of the mammoth effort he and his crew put in to make sure they saw the end of the season.
However despite the valiant effort, Walker had his reservations. They were heading in to qualifying on a ramshackle combination of borrowed parts that they’d never used before, largely untested and with no idea on the tune. “The first qualifier was just about making sure the thing held together!” he laughs, before he and the crew buckled down and got to work tuning the new combo’.
“We just chipped away round after round,” explains Walker. By the end of the weekend they’d managed to reset the National Record in the Quarter Finals, and then again in the Semis.
“It’s been a hectic two and a half years learning and trying to go faster,” admits Walker, reflecting on his first ever Championship and claiming the crown as the first ever 400 Thunder Competition Bike Champion.
“I’m going to put this bike away and bring out the new one, another Comp’ Bike,” he explains. He foresees the new rig being ready for the 2017/2018 season.