It was likely the last motorcycle event held in New Zealand before the boom was dropped for all sport cancellations in the wake of covid-19, and Whanganui's Tarbon Walker won it in record time.
A hill racer and F2 competitor in the NZ Superbike Championships, the young Walker claimed both the 600cc class title and the fastest overall time at the 2020 Cliffhanger Hill Climb in Masterton at the weekend, March 21-22.
More of a regional event on the wider racing calender, the Wairarapa-based climb nonetheless attracted a solid field of competitors, with Walker's F2 time being quicker than the 1000cc F1's as a result of an excellent battle with Waikato's Hamish Tarr.
The Saturday timed races on the 6.1km course at Tupurupuru Te Wharau Rd only saw five runs for each rider, after racing had to be stopped momentarily after a big crash for one of the younger competitors.
The rider's helmet came off and he was later airlifted to hospital, with Walker saying in his report on social media that he was shaken by the accident.
"I really lost my appetite for it all after seeing the way he was, but to be honest, to come away from a crash like that on this course is lucky in itself."
Walker then learned that Tarr, also a fellow F2 competitor on the national circuit, had just gone 0.004s faster than him on his last run, moving up into first spot for the 600cc class.
"I knew I'd go home disappointed if I didn't at least go back out there and try and find a little bit more pace somewhere."
In the Sunday competition, Walker and Tarr swapped the lead throughout, with victory coming down to their final runs.
Walker scorched through with a 1m 12.09s time, which was the fastest lap for a 600cc bike ever at the Cliffhanger and the all-time fourth fastest for the event.
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He had laid down the gauntlet by beating Tarr's previous time by three seconds, and the Hamilton-based rider did his best on his final run, but 2m 13.363s was not enough.
It was a further three seconds back to the F2's third place-getter in Jean-Pierre Bouchet (2m 17.42s), while the fastest time for the 1000cc class was Shanon Dellow 2m 12.622s, himself five seconds ahead of his nearest F1 competitor.
The victory was much more satisfying than Walker's last NZ Superbikes round at Hampton Downs, when he had got himself up to fourth amongst the top contenders in the F2 race before crashing out.
Walker has proved himself adept at hill racing, having won the Wanganui Motorcycle Club's resurrected Okoia Hill Climb back in December 2018.
His sponsors are Impact AV Australia, Xpress Racewear - NZ, GJH Fibreglass, LoweCo Moto Ltd, Grant Shortall, Stormin' Bikes, Pirelli Moto NZ, HJC Helmets and EBC Brakes.