Whanganui's Tarbon Walker was the fastest up the resurrected Okoia Hill Climb on Thursday morning with the Wanganui Motorcycle Club organisers eager to bring it back for more in 2019.

The hill climb, held for the first time since 2003, was part of the overall Whanganui Speed Week – a concept where the WMCC combined their December 27-28 morning hill climb and beach races with the Cemetery Circuit on Boxing Day and the NZ Jetsprint Series opener at Upokongaro's Shelterview on the following day.

There were 16 entries in five divisions for the hill climb, with a couple of riders entering in more than one.

Having also competed in the Suzuki Series in Formula Two racing, Walker set the quickest climb of 37.23s in C Class.

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Tarbon Walker set the fastest time at the Okoia Hill Climb on Thursday, one of the resurrected events by the Wanganui Motorcycle Club to create Whanganui Speed Week.
Tarbon Walker set the fastest time at the Okoia Hill Climb on Thursday, one of the resurrected events by the Wanganui Motorcycle Club to create Whanganui Speed Week.

The Wanganui Car Club provided officials and recorded the times, with electronic beams across the road at the top and bottom of the course.

Racing started at 8.30am and continued until around 2.30pm, well within the 7.30am-5.30pm time frame which the WMCC had available for the road's closure.

All riders had a practice run and then five qualifiers to establish their quickest time.

Walker also raced a bike in D Class and recorded a 38.27s time, barely ahead of fellow class competitor Scott Dowman with 38.29s.

Scott Dowman set the second fastest time of the day.
Scott Dowman set the second fastest time of the day.

The other rider to break into the high 30s was Tony Sklenars on his B Class bike, recording a 38.59s run.

No-one got close to the course record, which organiser Wayne Marshall believes is about 36.4s, owned by Richard Scott on a GS1000cc Suzuki.

However, as this was the first hill climb racing in 15 years, most of the field were either first-timers or veterans remembering how it all goes.

"Everyone's getting back in the groove. It's a short hill so there's no room for error, no time to make it up," said Marshall.

His own nephew Raymond Marshall got to follow the family tradition and have a go.

Wayne Marshall said the Motorcycle NZ representatives who attended were pleased with the event, and one of the stewards discussed with him the prospect of introducing a division for Harley Davidson's and Indian Motorcycles – which were made famous in New Zealand by the exploits of racer and world speed record holder Burt Munro.

"It will be quite good to see a Harley and Indian Challenge going in amongst all of it," said Marshall.

He thanked Whanganui and Partners, as without their assistance the event would not have gotten back up and runner, as well as Wanganui Car Club and Dowman Contracting for supplying important items such as air bags on the course.

"And the nuts and bolts are the people on the ground," Marshall added, referring to all the volunteers, of which three served as marshals for all the motorcycle events over the three days – Cemetery Circuit, the hill climb and the beach races.

"Everyone went away from the day really happy. Everything went off without a hitch," said Marshall.

"Absolutely fantastic, brilliant weather, awesome day.

"We've got some good building blocks established. It'll be an annual event from here on in."

Looking ahead to next year, Marshall is hoping for an increase in numbers, with riders coming down from up north for the prospect of added classes like the Harley's and Indian's.

It has also been discussed to add a special ironman-styled award for riders who enter all three events – street racing, hill racing, beach racing – either personally or even using the same bike, given the beach races do have a road class.

Competitors lining up to come to the start line for the first official Okoia Hill Climb event since 2003.
Competitors lining up to come to the start line for the first official Okoia Hill Climb event since 2003.