Stalker’s racing career has proven both exceptional in length and results, but his year on the Foggy Petronas FP1 perhaps stands out from all the rest.
The Petronas racing project only lasted four seasons from start to finish – that is, if you can even call its fourth and ﬁnal season in 2006 racing. The total amount of retirements from races achieved by Steve Martin and Craig Jones in the 2006 season was a whopping 22 from a combined total of 48 race starts, with a best finish of 11th by Steve Martin… little wonder that they didn’t come back in 2007.
The season before in 2005 wasn’t much better, with 20 retirements registered from 47 race starts, and Steve Martin and Garry McCoy ﬁnished 18th and 22nd respectively in the championship standings with a combined points tally of just 50 points between both riders from the whole season.
If you were going to race the Petronas FP1 for any season of World Superbike racing, 2004 was when to do it. It’s all relative, of course, even then; compared to the rest of the grid, the Petronas was massively underpowered and much like taking a knife to a gunfight.
Nonetheless the bike did score its only two WSB podiums that season, and its two riders scored a combined total of 274 points – 70 points more than the combined total of the 2003, 2005 and 2006 seasons. And 57% of all the Petronas FP1 WSB points were scored in just one season by Troy Corser and Chris Walker.
In fact, by all accounts, the 2004 season wasn’t that bad. The history books will always show a third finish in the manufacturer’s standings, ahead of Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha. As luck would have it, Chris Walker lives about 15 miles from me, and I figured that if he took Gareth’s FP1 for a ride, it might bring back some memories of the project’s purple patch. He didn’t disappoint…